Starlink at Superchargers: Elon Musk-owned Electric Vehicle (EV) company Tesla has reportedly started deploying Starlink antennas at Supercharger stations in an effort to offer satellite-based internet to owners while charging their EVs. Don’t despair if you want to stream a show at a Tesla Supercharger but aren’t paying for Premium Connectivity — you might have an official alternative. According to Electrek, Tesla EV owners have spotted Starlink satellite internet dishes at Supercharger stations. It’s not yet clear how many there are or if they’re accessible to drivers, but the deployment at least includes Florida.
Tesla hasn’t commented on the rollout and is believed to have disbanded its PR team.
There are multiple possible uses for Starlink broadband at Superchargers. At the least, it could replace or supplement the existing connections that handle basics like payments and charger status. That could help the company deploy Superchargers faster and in more remote areas. That’s important when the brand hopes to allow charging for non-Tesla EVs and triple the size of its station network.
You don’t need that much bandwidth (the median US Starlink connection is about 97Mbps) just to process transactions, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Tesla used the satellite link to provide WiFi to Supercharger customers. You’re typically parked at a charger for long enough to watch some TV episodes — you could stream shows without a Premium Connectivity subscription or use your phone as a hotspot. Network congestion could be a problem if the chargers are busy, but it would be convenient and potentially sell customers on Starlink service at home.
Starlink at Superchargers:
The report said that Starlink dishes will provide Wi-Fi to those who are charging their cars and with Standard Connectivity drivers can access in-car entertainment options while charging EVs.
Tesla has been building in-car apps for entertainment, such as Tesla Theater, which includes Netflix, Youtube, Twitch, and other streaming apps, and Tesla Arcade, which includes several video games.
Owners with premium connectivity, a $10 monthly subscription for data-heavy apps, can use those features through Tesla’s LTE cellular connectivity.
Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite internet project, which aims to launch nearly 12,000 satellites into low Earth orbit where they can provide broadband internet coverage to people on the ground, notably those in remote and rural areas where traditional internet infrastructure is lacking.
SpaceX launched the beta version of Starlink in October 2020, allowing users in certain geographical areas of the US to purchase the company’s starter kit, which included a 23-inch-wide circular user terminal, or dish, mounting equipment, a Wi-Fi router, and all the cables one would need.
The buy-in cost was $499 for the kit and then $99 a month for coverage. Now, users have the option to buy this new rectangular dish instead, which is just 12-inches wide and 19-inches long.
At 9.2 pounds, it is nearly half the weight of the original 16-pound dish. However, the price to buy the rectangular option appears unchanged.
Tesla’s global Starlink internet service may already beam to your home for an affordable price, but if you subscribe to the company’s Supercharger network, you might get it for free. That’s what one Reddit user noticed and lived to snap a picture of over the weekend. Tesla, it turns out, is gradually equipping its Superchargers with satellite internet, so you can stream those movies while bored in the charging queue.
According to the service’s marketing fluff, “Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable.” One of these deprived locations seems to be Tesla’s Supercharger in Lake City, FL, on top of which Tesla has installed a Starlink Dishy McFlatface satellite dish, perhaps to compensate for the exorbitant charging rates in Florida.
Thus, instead of Tesla’s premium cellular connectivity service for US$10 a month, you can now use its Starlink Wi-Fi off a McFlatface dish at select Supercharger stations for free, just as Elon Musk promised earlier this year. Starlink access costs $99 a month, with an extra $499 for the initial Starlink Kit, and the satellite internet service has been promising up to 300Mbps download speeds available by the end of the year. Tesla’s low-earth orbit satellites only provide Starlink availability in select regions and several countries like the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand for now.