FCC Chairman backs Space X's plans for satellite internet

Satellite technology can help reach people in hard-to-serve places where fibre optic cables and cell towers don't reach, says Ajit Pai.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk talks to the media after the successful launch of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Feb. 6, 2018.  (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk talks to the media after the successful launch of the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Feb. 6, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is backing  a proposal recommending approval of SpaceX's application for a satellite-delivered Internet service. SpaceX is aiming to launch 4,425 small satellites to low Earth orbit beginning in 2019, with full deployment expected by 2024. All would launch in phases on Falcon 9 rockets.

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 licences 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 fibre optic cables and cell towers do not reach," he added. 

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission

“And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available." 

“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,” Pai said.

On Thursday, 22nd February, SpaceX successfully launched the PAZ satellite. The mission, launched on a flight-proven Falcon 9, also carried SpaceX’s first two Starlink demonstration satellites to orbit.On Tuesday, 6th March, SpaceX successfully launched the Hispasat 30W-6 satellite. The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite was deployed to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) approximately 33 minutes after launch. 

In 2015, Google and Fidelity invested $1 billion in SpaceX. 

In 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that SpaceX expects revenue from the telecom project to exceed launch revenue by 2020, and to generate more than $15 billion in profit by 2025.

Another company, OneWeb,is also attempting to build the world's highest throughput satellite system to enable affordable, high-speed, low latency broadband services for all. According to a report in Quartz, Greg Wyler, the founder of OneWeb  argues that OneWeb is advantaged by spectrum rights granted by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body that coordinates telecom regulation around the world. It has already won approval from the FCC to offer its service in the US, but it has yet to launch any satellites and reportedly will do so by the end of this year. 

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