With green light given by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Boeing is the latest Earth company to join the race of building a satellite internet constellation. It is now in the same league as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.
Boeing plans to provide broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as well as globally, says FCC. Boeing’s application and subsequent approval cover the launch of 147 satellites, 132 of which will be positioned in low Earth orbit with the remaining 15 orbiting at much greater altitudes.The project was proposed by Boeing in 2017.
FCC’s approval for Boeing may not go down with fellow space racers. SpaceX had argued that Boeing’s competing product would interfere with its Starlink system. It claimed that Boeing should have additional requirements put in place. However, the FCC rejected those arguments and stated that operators must coordinate in good faith the use of commonly authorized frequencies.
Boeing has six years to launch half of its satellites constellation and nine years to deploy the entire network. It had requested the FCC to help the company commit to launch five satellites in the first six years and asked for a 12-year window to launch the entire constellation. The commission rejected this request.
SpaceX, Amazon and Boeing are trying to go after an estimated four billion people without access to the internet, as well as businesses that operate in remote areas, including airlines and cruise ships. These companies are vying to put their satellites into space for internet services. According to The Washington Post, they use lots of satellites in lower orbits, some are as low as 340 miles over your head! Because they are physically closer to Earth, it doesn’t take as long for data to move from your home to a satellite to a wired ground station and back.
It should be noted that Starlink currently has more than 1,700 satellites circling the planet and aims to add around 10,000 more, while Amazon is planning a similar approach with its Project Kuiper. It hopes to get a total of 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit