SpaceX has filed trademark applications for the word “Starlink” to describe its planned satellite broadband network.
SpaceX filed applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 21 to have Starlink trademarked for “wireless broadband communication services,” “high-speed wireless Internet access,” and other services related to its upcoming satellite network.
The trademark applications were surfaced by a user on Reddit and then made the rounds in news articles. SpaceX is also seeking an additional trademark on “SpaceX” specifically for the satellite network, in addition to the SpaceX trademarks it already owns for aerospace launch vehicles, rockets, and services for launching payloads into space.
A trademark search on the USPTO site for SpaceX turns up trademarks for other well-known SpaceX projects, including “Hyperloop,” Dragon,” and “Falcon,” but it doesn’t turn up any other possible names for the satellite broadband network.
We asked SpaceX whether Starlink will definitely be the name of its upcoming broadband service, and the company said only that it has “applied for various trademarks in a number of countries as our business grows and our space technologies evolve.” A SpaceX spokesperson did not provide any update on when the satellite service will launch.
Previously, SpaceX has said its satellites will provide gigabit speeds at latencies of around 25ms. Those latencies are about as low as cable Internet service; typically, that wouldn’t be possible with satellites, but SpaceX plans to use low-Earth orbits.
SpaceX VP of satellite government affairs Patricia Cooper described the company’s broadband plans in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in May. She said that SpaceX will begin testing the satellites within months and launch one prototype before the end of this year.
The launch of 4,425 operational satellites is slated to begin in 2019 with the system reaching full capacity in 2024.
SpaceX has also proposed an additional 7,500 satellites operating even closer to the ground, saying that this will boost capacity and reduce latency in heavily populated areas. But Cooper offered no specific timeline for this part of the project during the May hearing.
SpaceX is not the only company seeking to build a low-Earth, high-capacity satellite broadband network. A company called OneWeb was the first to seek Federal Communications Commission approval for such a system, and it received a key approval in June. OneWeb, which intends to use 720 satellites, is planning to start offering broadband services in Alaska as early as 2019. Another company called LeoSat says it is launching up to 108 low-Earth-orbit satellites.