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According to a letter sent Tuesday to the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX is seeking to provide students in the US with access to the Starlink internet service on school buses.

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In partnership with school districts, SpaceX is launching pilot projects in rural areas of the country to support students on bus routes that last more than 60 minutes one way and are “primarily unavailable to other mobile broadband services.”

“The vast majority of participating students will not have access to high-speed broadband internet at home,” the statement said. “Connecting school buses will give students the opportunity to optimize their travel time for essential educational use of the Internet, as well as time spent with family and friends or recreational activities.”

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According to the FCC, almost 17 million students lack of internet access at home.


In May, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworsel proposed using funds from the Universal School and Library Support Facility, or E-Rate program, to equip school buses with Wi-Fi. The proposal will clarify that the use of Wi-Fi or similar hotspot technologies on school buses serves educational purposes and that the provision of such service is eligible for E-Rate funding.

“Providing funding to access these services will benefit students in the United States at home and on the go, especially in areas that are underserved or not fully served by terrestrial alternatives,” the aerospace giant said in a letter. “Therefore, SpaceX urges the Commission to adopt the Chair’s Draft Declarative Resolution and quickly make the necessary changes to the list of eligible services to include services and equipment, such as SpaceX Mobile Antennas, that can provide Wi-Fi on school buses immediately.”


School bus Wi-Fi funding is currently covered by the agency’s $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program, a temporary program authorized by Congress as part of the COVID-19 relief efforts. According to Rosenworcel, as of May, the program has allocated more than $35 million to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots and broadband services for school buses.

The letter was sent after SpaceX received FCC approval in July to use Starlink on moving vehicles, including SUVs, trucks, boats and aircraft.

SpaceX has since announced Starlink partnerships with T-Mobile, Royal Caribbean, Hawaiian Airlines and semi-private carrier JSX. Founder Elon Musk also recently said the company had “promising conversations” with Apple about the Starlink connection.

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The Starlink service is currently available on all seven continents, including Antarctica, for $110 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $599 for standard satellite dishes and $2,500 for “high performance” satellite dishes. The company also released Premium tier $500/month for businesses, the $135/month tier for residences, and the $5,000/month tier for boats.

To date, the company has deployed over 3,000 Starlink satellites and currently has a base of over 400,000 Starlink subscribers worldwide.