FCC greenlights SpaceX to launch 7,000 satellites for broadband services

A couple years back SpaceX was talking up a plan that would see it put 4,425 satellites into orbit to roll out global broadband connectivity. That promise is closer to reality today with the FCC announcing that it has approved the requests of four different companies to roll out new and expanded broadband services using satellites. The four companies include SpaceX, Kepler Communications, Telesat Canada, and LeoSat.

The proposed systems that the companies want to build out use non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) satellites and are expected to enable fixed-satellite service in the US. The goal of the services is to increase the availability of high-speed broadband and competition in the marketplace. The FCC's approval for SpaceX shows a much grander vision than what SpaceX talked about before.

The FCC approved SpaceX for a very-low-Earth orbit constellation of more than 7,000 satellites using V-band frequencies. SpaceX was also granted a request to add 37.5-42.0 GHz, and 47.2-50.2 GHz support to its previously authorized NGSO constellation. Kepler's approvals with the FCC will allow it to offer "global connectivity for the Internet of Things" according to the FCC using NGSO satellites in the 10.7-12.7 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz frequency bands with 140 proposed satellites.

Telsat plans 117 NGSO satellites operating in the 37.5-42.0 GHz, and 47.2- 50.2 GHz frequency bands. LeoSat's NGSO constellation will have 78 satellites and will operate on 17.8-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.4 GHz, 19.6-20.2 GHz, 27.5-29.1 GHz, and 29.5-30.0 GHz frequency bands. There is no clear indication of when any of these broadband services might be ready for consumers to use.