The regional train line Brightline selected Starlink to provide Internet service for its passenger trains. In a press release issued by Brightline, it found Starlink’s relatively low latency and high speed for a satellite Internet service attractive.
Starlink’s Internet service is already available on Brightline’s train routes between Miami and West Palm Beach in southern Florida. Brightline will extend the service to train routes going as far north as its recently opened Orlando station once it has the five trains that will make stops in Orlando up and running. It expects to start selling tickets to and from its Orlando station as early as this week. It will offer Internet service for free to all passengers on its routes.
Brightline often boasts of providing a transportation option for routes that are too long or too congested with traffic to drive effectively but too short to fly. (Fair. I-4 can be a nightmare, right, Florida?) It plans to open similar train routes between Las Vegas and southern California in the near future. It remains to be seen whether these train routes will use Starlink, though they probably will.
“Brightline will be the first train sets in the world to use the Starlink system. This really speaks to what we represent – an innovative passenger rail provider paving the way for high-speed rail in the US,” said Brightline chief technology & digital innovation officer Kevin T. McAuliffe.
The press release cited Starlink’s satellites in low-Earth orbit, which can deliver much faster response times than comparable satellites in geostationary orbit. Starlink can deliver average response times of 25 milliseconds, compared to 600 milliseconds for geostationary satellites.
This will make it possible for Brightline passengers to run software and accomplish tasks that require real-time connectivity, such as gaming and video calls. The fast latency may make it especially popular with professionals who wish to get a virtual meeting and some paperwork in while traveling for business. Most of its Floridian routes take up to one hour and twenty minutes.
The FAA approved Starlink for use on maritime applications like boats and oil rigs and large vehicles like RVs, planes, and trains during the summer of 2022. SpaceX already has deals with airlines and cruise ship operators to provide Internet services. It also introduced a Global Roaming Plan that makes it possible for subscribers to take their Starlink service with them when they travel. (It’s still a poor idea to attach a Starlink terminal to the hood of your car, though. SpaceX does not seem to have plans to offer Starlink service for vehicles smaller than an RV.) Making Starlink available for train lines is a first for Starlink.