The Federal Communications Commission has authorized SpaceX to use its satellite network to provide broadband internet service. SpaceX is the fourth satellite company authorized by the FCC to provide broadband internet; the others are OneWeb, Space Norway, and TeleSat. Of these, only SpaceX is licensed in the United States.
SpaceX, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, plans to use more than 4,000 low-Earth orbiting satellites to provide global internet service, and is now authorized to use frequencies in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) bands. , SpaceX proposes to operate in the 10.7-12.7 GHz, 13.85-14.5 GHz, 17.8-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.3 GHz, 27.5-29.1 GHz, and 29.5-30 GHz bands.
OneWeb, whose investors include SoftBank, Qualcomm and Intelsat, opposed SpaceX’s application, citing the risk of satellite collisions. The FCC agrees that the skies are likely to get crowded, but said it is too soon to know how best to address this problem.
“While we are concerned about the risk of collisions between the space stations of [non-geostationary-orbit systems] operating at similar orbital altitudes, we think that these concerns are best addressed in the first instance through inter-operator coordination,” the commissioners wrote.” At this stage, we do not believe it appropriate to specify the methods for effecting coordination, which may involve a wide range of changes in system design and operations.”
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel issued her own statement, calling for “a comprehensive policy to mitigate collision risks and ensure space sustainability.” She wants the FCC to be included in the National Space Council, which currently includes the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence. as well as representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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