The FCC backs SpaceX's satellite internet proposal

Natalie Bannerman
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Ajit Pai, chairman of the the Federal Communications Commission, has backed SpaceX's plan to launch a satellite internet network

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been endorsed by The Federal Communications Commission to build a satellite-based internet network.

Earlier this week, Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, encouraged the US regulator to approve the application made by Space Exploration Holdings (SpaceX), to provide broadband services using satellite technologies in the US and around the globe.

In the statement, Pai said: “To bridge America’s digital divide, we’ll have to use innovative technologies. SpaceX’s application—along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the US 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 fibre optic cables and cell towers do not reach. And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available.”

SpaceX first confirmed its intention to launch two experimental non-geostationary orbit satellites, the Microsat-2a and -2b aboard on of its Falcon 9 rockets. It will act as a secondary payload on the Falcon 9 and will act as an injection in altitude for the PAZ satellite for Hisdesat of Madrid, Spain. The request was approved by the FCC and the first prototypes of those satellites are due for launch on 17 February 2018.  

The news days after SpaceX completed the successful launch of what many are calling the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. The rocket launched from Florida and carried a Tesla Inc Roadster from the company’s electric car assembly line.

“Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans. If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies,” added Pai in the statement.

In November, KT launched its Koreasat-5A by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral. The new satellite will work alongside Koreasat-7, which launched earlier in 2017 to provide services to the Philippines, Indonesia, Indochina and India.