SpaceX Gets FCC Approval for Providing Satellite Based Broadband Services

The US Federal Communications Commission has now officially approved SpaceX’s request to provide satellite based worldwide internet services. The space technology startup founded by Elon Musk, expects to create a satellite constellation of 4425 low-Earth orbit satellites with frequencies in the Ka and Ku bands to provide global internet connectivity. This is also the first time when the FCC has allowed a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services through low-Earth orbit satellites.

Named as Starlink, the constellation is slotted for a launch in 2019 and will be operational after atleast 800 satellites are deployed. The Starlink system is expected to offer broadband speed at par with the current fibre optics and will give way to new direct to consumer wireless connections, making them low-cost and highly reliable. The $10 billion proposal will have satellites launched in two phases between 2019 and 2024, then fly between 714 and 823 miles above the Earth providing a 1 Gbps connection.

Starlink may become a big revenue generator that can help offset R&D and operations costs for SpaceX. Financial projections, disclosed by The Wall Street Journal last year, show that SpaceX expects more than 40 million subscribers for Starlink by 2025, equaling roughly $30 billion in revenue.

While SpaceX believes it has still much to do with this complex undertaking, like, to figure out the exact process for dealing with space debris, interference with radio telescopes and managing the distance between all of these proposed networks; the new system is an important step towards 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 FCC has within the past year approved requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat, which have also put the desire to provide broadband services access the U.S. market. The FCC considers the satellite technology a promising route toward expanding internet access to remote and rural areas.