SpaceX is testing a program to extend its satellite internet service to some school buses in the United States, according to a filing filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday.
The company told the FCC that it is currently working with school districts in rural areas of the country to bring SpaceX’s satellite internet service to students on buses and convert “drive time into connected time,” the filing said. Elon Musk’s company told the FCC that it is focusing the pilot program on bus routes that are over an hour long and “predominantly inaccessible to other mobile broadband services.”
“Many students who need the most support live miles from school with long commutes to work but no connectivity,” SpaceX said in its filing, noting that many lower-income students also don’t have internet access at home. “No service is better placed to fill this overlooked portion of the homework gap than Starlink,” it added.
In the letter, SpaceX asked the FCC to approve federal funding to support the deployment of school buses with WiFi. Earlier this year, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to use funds from a program to equip schools and libraries with Wi-Fi to provide connectivity on school buses.
Spokespersons for SpaceX and the FCC did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of the release.
SpaceX’s letter comes just a month after the FCC rejected an $866 million grant for Starlink to provide its service to rural communities across the US. The commission said the space company had “failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service” and called Starlink “a technology still in development”.
SpaceX quickly hit back at the agency over the decision. The company called the FCC’s decision “grossly unfair” and “contrary to the evidence” the company presented in its bid for the subsidy.
Musk’s company just received FCC approval in June to use the Starlink for vehicles on the move. But the service keeps growing. Last week, SpaceX conducted demo flights in a private jet to demonstrate Starlink’s capabilities from 30,000 feet.
Starlink currently has a user base of over 400,000 subscribers worldwide. The company has a network of more than 2,500 satellites in low orbit. The service is designed to provide customers in rural areas and higher latitudes with high-speed internet of up to 200 Mbit/s.