The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that it had floated for a vote Boeing Co’s proposal to launch and operate 147 satellites to provide broadband internet access.
Boeing first requested authority from the FCC in 2017 to deploy a V-band Constellation employing low earth orbit and highly inclined non-geostationary orbit satellites “to offer high speed broadband connectivity.”
Boeing sought to operate V-band Constellation “to provide broadband Internet and communications services to residential consumers, governmental, and professional users across the United States, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX requested the FCC in 2019 to reject Boeing’s plan, claiming that it posed a “obvious danger of harmful interference” to other systems, or “at the very least set suitable limitations to guarantee that Boeing’s activities do not impair those of other” operators.
The FCC decided in April to allow a SpaceX plan to put certain Starlink satellites in a lower earth orbit than originally anticipated as part of the company’s quest to provide space-based broadband internet.
SpaceX had applied to the FCC for permission to launch 2,824 satellites into a lower orbit as part of a proposal to bring high-speed broadband internet to people who don’t have it now.
The FCC also stated that SpaceX agreed to accept that satellites launched under Amazon’s Kuiper Systems satellite project may interfere with their lower-altitude satellites.
Amazon announced in July that it would spend more than $10 billion on a network of 3,236 low-earth orbit satellites.
SpaceX has previously stated that the Starlink constellation will cost around $10 billion and that it expects to deploy 12,000 satellites in all.
While satellite technology is highly expensive to deploy, it can give high-speed internet to people who live in remote or hard-to-reach areas where fibre optic cables and cell towers are not available. When hurricanes or other natural disasters impede communication, the technology might be a lifesaver.