FCC approves SpaceX plan for 4,425-satellite broadband network

technicalstudio | March 29, 2018 | 0 | Gadgets

SpaceX has a green light from the FCC to launch a network of thousands of satellites blanketing the globe with broadband. And you won’t have too long to wait — on a cosmic scale, anyway. Part of the agreement is that SpaceX launch half of its proposed satellites within six years.

The approval of SpaceX’s application was not seriously in doubt after last month’s memo from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was excited at the prospect of the first U.S.-based company being authorized to launch a constellation like this.

“I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans,” he wrote at the time. He really is pushing that “digital divide” thing. Not that Elon Musk disagrees:

SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell echoed the sentiment in a statement provided to TechCrunch:

We appreciate the FCC’s thorough review and approval of SpaceX’s constellation license. Although we still have much to do with this complex undertaking, this is an important step toward SpaceX building a next-generation satellite network that can link the globe with reliable and affordable broadband service, especially reaching those who are not yet connected.

The proposed service, which will be called Starlink, was opposed by several existing satellite operators like OneWeb and Spire. They’re rightly concerned that another operator in space — especially one that wants to launch thousands of satellites — will crowd both spectrum and orbit.

Illustration of SpaceX satellite coverage from the FCC application

OneWeb, for example, said that SpaceX satellites shouldn’t be allowed to be deployed within 125 kilometers of altitude of its own.

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