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The FCC Approves Smaller, More Portable Starlink Dish: A Game-Changer in Satellite Internet

Illustration of SpaceX's Starlink network of satellites.

In a noteworthy development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted SpaceX the green light to operate two new variants of its Starlink satellite dishes. One of these is a compact, more portable version designed to bring high-speed, low-latency broadband to even the most remote locations. This approval comes as the latest milestone in Starlink’s journey, which has already seen the deployment of over 5,000 satellites and a subscriber base exceeding 1.5 million.

The Next-Gen Mini Starlink Dish

SpaceX’s new dish is notably smaller than its predecessor, measuring just 0.29 meters by 0.25 meters—roughly the size of an Apple MacBook. This makes it not only easier to install but also highly portable. According to SpaceX’s application, this new hardware will allow consumers to enjoy broadband “wherever they live or work, including in rural and remote areas where mobile or portable applications are necessary.”

High-Performance Variant

In addition to the mini dish, the FCC also approved a second, high-performance dish. While details are scant, it’s expected to measure 0.57 meters by 0.36 meters, making it smaller than the current high-performance offering from SpaceX. This new model promises to improve upon SpaceX’s already formidable fixed user terminal models.

Compatibility and Future Plans

Both new hardware models will be compatible with first- and second-generation Starlink satellites. Although the official application doesn’t delve into specifics like pricing or potential speed improvements, it does note that these new user terminals will offer “even more benefits to American consumers.”

Regulatory Hurdles and Future Prospects

It’s worth noting that this FCC approval currently covers only the “fixed” or stationary use of the new Starlink hardware. Earlier this year, SpaceX had also filed for clearance to operate these dishes on cars, planes, and boats—a decision still pending due to concerns from competitors like Dish Network over potential interference.

The Implications for Starlink’s Growth

With a valuation estimated to reach up to $220 billion by 2030 and a growing user base, these new hardware options could significantly accelerate Starlink’s market penetration. They come as especially good news for users in rural and remote areas, who often lack access to reliable, high-speed internet.

The timing for the release of these new models remains unconfirmed, but given SpaceX’s past pattern of quickly rolling out new hardware post-FCC approval, the market could see these dishes sooner rather than later.

Satellite Internet’s New Horizon

With these new dishes, Starlink is not just making satellite internet more accessible; it’s making it more adaptable to the diverse needs of consumers. Whether you are in a bustling city or a secluded cabin, Starlink’s latest offerings promise to bring the world closer to you.

So, what does this mean for the future of internet connectivity? If these new dishes are anything to go by, it means greater flexibility, broader reach, and yet another leap toward making high-speed internet a global commodity. And in that vision, Starlink appears to be leading the charge.

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