Starlink on rails: US rail line becomes first to host space-based internet service

The service will be offered on five trains, to begin with, and free for passengers.
Ameya Paleja
Brightline passenger train
Brightline passenger train


SpaceX's Starlink satellite-based internet services will also be available on the rails. U.S.-based Brightline has partnered with SpaceX to offer high-speed, low-latency internet to its passengers in South Florida.

"Brightline will be the first train sets in the world to use the Starlink system," said Kevin T. McAuliffe, chief technology & digital innovation officer at Brightline, in a press release. "This really speaks to what we represent - an innovative passenger rail provider paving the way for high-speed rail in the US.” 

Where will Starlink Internet be available on Brighline?

The Starlink internet services on Brightline are part of the rail company's digital transformation that focuses on delivering a guest-first experience to its travelers. The company has partnered with SpaceX to provide a better-connected passenger rail service.

Starlink uses a large constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit to deliver internet services across the planet. Compared to traditional satellite internet services that use geostationary satellites orbiting at a larger distance of over 22,200 miles (35,786 km), Starlink uses many smaller satellites orbiting at 341 miles (550 km) to deliver a faster internet experience.

Starlink on rails: US rail line becomes first to host space-based internet service
With Starlink on rails, watching a movie or even gaming will be possible

When a signal makes a roundtrip to a geostationary satellite, signals sent to Starlink can make 70 roundtrips, thereby reducing the lag or delay in signals and providing a seamless internet experience.

Brightline plans to offer this high-speed internet experience to its traveling passengers so that they can make video calls, play games, or even stream movies on the trains. The service is being launched on five trains between Miami and West Palm Beach in Florida and is expected to be introduced on trains to Orlando during the summer.

Starlink has previously teamed with airlines and cruiseliners to offer its internet services in aviation and maritime sectors, but this is the first instance of its services being available for railroad customers.

Starlink customers can also avail of roaming services for their internet connection by paying a certain premium on their subscription fees. However, for those traveling by Brightlink, the service is complimentary during their journey.

high-speedWith Brightline offering train connectivity with 125 miles (201 km) per hour, customers can enjoy high-speed travel along with seamless internet while on the rails, a win-win for any journey.

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