Charging your Tesla isn’t the most exciting experience — especially if you’re not paying for the cellular data plan that comes with a Premium Connectivity subscription — but a report from Electrek finds that may be about to change. According to the report, a user on Reddit noticed a Starlink dish, which goes by the official name Dishy McFlatface, at a Supercharger station in Lake City, Florida. So far, it remains unclear where else Tesla has deployed (or plans to deploy) Starlink satellite dishes and what purpose they’ll serve.
It’s possible the dish will provide complimentary Wi-Fi to customers without Tesla’s Premium Connectivity plan — those with the $10 per month subscription can take advantage of Tesla’s built-in entertainment apps, such as Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, YouTube, and more with access to cellular data. If the satellite dishes are there to provide Wi-Fi while you charge your car, that means even drivers with Standard Connectivity can access in-car entertainment options while juicing up their EVs.
It might also have to do with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s plan to make the Supercharger network available to other types of EVs. According to an estimate from Goldman Sachs, Tesla’s annual revenue earned from charging could jump from $1 billion to $25 billion if it opens up charging stations to other EVs. The cost of charging at a Supercharger station varies throughout the day, and drivers are either charged by kilowatts per hour or by the minute. Having free internet access through Starlink might attract drivers outside of the Tesla ecosystem, maybe even helping Tesla outperform Goldman Sachs’ estimate.
Tesla already started letting non-Tesla EVs access Supercharger stations at 10 locations in the Netherlands, and it likely began the pilot there because standardized charging cable connectors are mandatory in Europe. In the US, non-Tesla EVs will need adapters to use Supercharger stations, which only complicates things. If and when Superchargers are made available to everyone, tacking on free Wi-Fi on top of speedy charging times might make other EV drivers choose Superchargers over its competitors, like ChargePoint and EVgo.
At this time of writing, the Musk-owned SpaceX has launched a total of 1,844 Starlink satellites into space since 2018, with the goal of providing internet access to even the remotest areas of the world. Starlink also rolled out a more lightweight, rectangular version of Dishy McFlatface, although this doesn’t look like the model installed on the Florida Supercharger station.