SpaceX hopes to build a space-based broadband internet service and has won the support of the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.
The FCC has already approved the launch of two experimental satellites via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is scheduled to occur Saturday. A document submitted to the FCC in 2016 outlines the intent for the mission – deploy two satellites known as Microsat-2a and -2b to test a broadband antenna to be included in the proposed constellation that will beam internet service back to earth. The full planned constellation will include more than 4,000 satellites.
“To bridge America’s digital divide, we’ll have to use innovative technologies,” Pai said in a release. “SpaceX’s application – along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S. market for non-geostationary satellite orbit systems – involves one such innovation. Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach. And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available.”
Over the past year, the FCC has approved requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to
access the U.S. market to provide broadband services using satellite technology. SpaceX would be the first American-based company to provide broadband services using low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.
SpaceX doesn’t expect to make the service available for several years, however the launch of the first two prototypes is an important step.