Internet access: SpaceX to blanket earth with 12,000 satellites

Internet access: SpaceX to blanket earth with 12,000 satellites

That promise is closer to reality today with the FCC announcing that it has approved the requests of four different companies to roll out new and expanded broadband services using satellites.

A couple years back SpaceX was talking up a plan that would see it put 4,425 satellites into orbit to roll out global broadband connectivity.

Finally, LeoSat's 78 satellite system, which will operate under the ITU filings of France and a planned authorization from the Netherlands, was also approved.

The Commission granted SpaceX's application with certain conditions, authorizing SpaceX to construct, deploy, and operate this new very Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation using V-band frequencies.

These 11,943 satellites - between 220 and 1,100 pounds in size - will form the expansive Starlink broadband network, created to provide worldwide high speed internet access by ensuring that at least one satellite is always above the horizon for anyone on Earth. To recall, SpaceX previously received the approval from FCC for a constellation of 4,425 satellites in March.

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Based in Washington DC, LeoSat is now working with Thales Alenia Space for the low-earth-orbit constellation of Ka-band communications satellites. Starlink will let the company provide a high-speed internet coverage to every corner of the world. Because of the low orbits, SpaceX says its broadband network will have latencies, similar to cable or fiber systems.

"Our approach to these applications reflects this commission's fundamental approach to encourage the private sector to invest and to innovate and allow market forces to deliver value to American consumers". That would "simplify the spacecraft design" and aid with orbital debris removal at the end of the satellites' life, the company said. However, SpaceX will have to launch half (around 6000) satellites and all the satellites in nine years over the next six years.

In addition to the companies that were the subject of today's actions, the worldwide OneWeb consortium is planning to put hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide low-cost global internet access. Musk hopes to launch some of the satellites in 2019. To prevent the orbital debris, the FCC soon will come up with the rules for the satellite industry.

"Even a centimeter-wide object can wreak devastating damage to satellites", Pai said.

"Taken together, these changes are meant to ensure that the United States remains the most desirable country in the world for licensing and operating satellites", said FCC chairman Ajit Pai. The company said the change in altitude would result in lower latency for the satellites and allow SpaceX to speed up the deployment of its constellation.

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