SpaceX is one of a new wave of companies that will serve consumer and commercial broadband from a large constellation of small, inexpensive, low-flying satellites. FCC chairman Ajit Pai requested last month that SpaceX’s application to provide the service be approved.
Today the FCC sealed the deal by authorizing it.
Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company intends to put 4,425 low-flying satellites in orbit around the Earth, flying at between 684 and 823 miles up. Later, the company says in its FCC application, it plans to launch an even bigger constellation of 7,518 satellites that will orbit at about 211 miles above the Earth. Last month, SpaceX sent two of its own demo satellites into space on one of its Falcon 9 rockets.
These satellites, SpaceX says, will enable “the provision of high-speed, high-bandwidth, low-latency broadband services that are truly competitive with terrestrial alternatives.” A Wall Street Journal report said SpaceX expects to sign up more than 40 million subscribers to its broadband service by 2025.
The FCC says today’s authorization is the first such approval for broadband provision by a U.S.-licensed constellation. Over the past year, the FCC has approved similar requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat.