The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved an application by Space Exploration Holdings, better known as SpaceX, to provide broadband services via satellite technology for users in the U.S. and around the world. The FCC sees working with SpaceX as another way to help improve the availability of high-speed broadband.
The announcement marks the first approval of a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation for broadband services using low-Earth orbit satellite technologies. SpaceX proposed a constellation system comprised of 4,425 satellites to boost global internet connectivity. The Memorandum Opinion, Order, and Authorization issued by the FCC specifies the conditions to ensure compliance with Commission rules and to protect other organizations working within the requested frequency bands.
Since last spring, the FCC has approved requests by OneWeb, Telesat, and others to provide broadband services to Americans via satellite technology. The industry collectively hopes that the use of constellation networks, including the one approved for SpaceX, will expand internet access, particularly in remote and rural areas across the country.
Although these approvals are the first of their kind for a new generation of large, non-geostationary satellite orbit, fixed-satellite service systems, the FCC is seeing a growing number of similar requests. As commercial space launching operations like SpaceX continue to demonstrate cost savings in comparison to government agencies like NASA, the number of approvals should also increase.