Delta Air Lines has put Elon Musk’s satellite Wi-Fi service to the test in order to boost internet connectivity on board its planes.
The Wall Street Journal initially reported on the test with SpaceX’s broadband unit Starlink, which would take advantage of a slew of internet satellites now in low orbit. Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, told the Wall Street Journal that the airline has undertaken exploratory testing, but he didn’t elaborate.
Musk, for one, tweeted last year that Starlink was aiming to obtain licensed for Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 planes “since those serve [the] most people.”
According to Starlink, users may expect download rates of 100 to 200 megabits per second and latency as low as 20 milliseconds in most places. SpaceX has sent almost 2,000 satellites into orbit so far, according to the corporation.
While the Federal Communications Commission has given SpaceX permission to test Starlink for airplane usage, the Federal Aviation Administration still needs to certify satellite-internet equipment installed on commercial aircraft, according to the Journal.
According to Delta, the airline now offers free chatting through iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, but charges for other internet services.
Delta announced in March that by the end of 2022, it would enhance its onboard Wi-Fi to be “faster and more dependable” and “more like what you’d get at home.” The airline is presently using Viasat Wi-Fi to achieve this goal, which it claims is up to twice as fast as the service it provides in 2019.
Bastian stated in 2019 that he believes the internet should be “free and of high-speed quality.” Delta also tested free internet on select flights prior to the outbreak, according to the Journal.
Many airlines provide Wi-Fi services at various prices, but JetBlue is now the only U.S. carrier that provides passengers with unlimited free in-flight Wi-Fi.