Economy

Elon Musk's SpaceX broadband-from-space plan gets final US FCC approval

Elon Musk's SpaceX broadband-from-space plan gets final US FCC approval

This could transform our current costly and low-reliability Internet service.

SpaceX cleared a major hurdle in its goal to launch a network of broadband satellites in low Earth orbit yesterday, when the FCC approved a revised draft of their 2016 proposal.

His company SpaceX recently unveiled a plan to launch a total of 12,000 satellites into low-Earth orbit. The satellites will be in support of the Starlink internet service that Elon Musk envisions will provide affordable internet services to remote areas that are now underserved.

SpaceX expects to have more than 40 million subscribers to its global satellite broadband service by 2025, bringing in over $30 billion in revenue, according to a Wall Street Journal report published a year ago based on internal company documents it had obtained. Elon Musk's company applied for regulatory approval in 2017 and now, with approval granted, will begin the process of bringing the proposed satellite cluster to life. That request nearly seems chosen to deliberately foil SpaceX's plans, since the Starlink satellites would operate satellites at altitudes between 1,110 kilometers and 1,325 kilometers.

Starlink will also need separate approval from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

FCC commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, said on Thursday that the agency needs "to prepare for the proliferation of satellites in our higher altitudes". As such, the agency said it's approval to SpaceX is conditioned upon "approval of an updated description of the orbital debris mitigation plans for its system".

SpaceX said it appreciated the FCC's thorough review of its constellation license.

And there's one other condition-one that suggests the FCC knows just who it's dealing with. The FCC in September relaxed its deadline, giving operators nine years to launch their full constellation, but even those rules are stricter than what SpaceX would refer. In its request, SpaceX said it planned to get all its satellites in orbit by 2024.

Elon Musk said at the time the first two test satellites were launched that the constellation will serve the least served with connectivity.


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