Boeing satellite broadband cleared for take off - Mobile World Live

Boeing satellite broadband cleared for take off

03 NOV 2021

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a request by aerospace company Boeing to launch satellites delivering broadband communications, potentially adding another player to a growing field of competitors seeking to offer such services.

Boeing’s application to operate in portions of the V-band ranging from 37.5GHz to 51.4GHz was approved. The FCC also granted the company permission to operate inter-satellite links in the 65GHz to 71GHz range.

“Boeing plans to provide broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the US and globally”, the FCC stated.

President Joe Biden’s nominee and acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel stated satellites have a role to play in “connecting hard-to-serve communities”.

Boeing first applied to the FCC in 2017 but faced numerous delays in securing approval. The US regulator fielded comments from a number of interested parties including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which argued Boeing’s operations could interfere with its Starlink service.

The aerospace giant scaled back its original plan to launch more than 1,000 satellites. Now Boeing is targeting 132 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 15 highly-inclined non-geostrationary orbit birds.

Late in 2020, the FCC awarded $885 million to SpaceX through the government’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), meant to subsidise connectivity in remote parts of the country.

SpaceX secured almost 10 per cent of the total awards made in the first round of the RDOF reverse auction.

The FCC noted in a statement Boeing had applied for a waiver of the agency’s rules requiring it to launch half its proposed satellite fleet within the first six years of obtaining a licence. The FCC denied this request, noting the company had proposed to launch five satellites within the six years.

“Although these five satellites would allegedly provide domestic coverage of the US, with its representation that it would only launch five satellites of its 132 within six years, we conclude that waiver would undermine the purpose of the rule”, the FCC wrote.

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Martha DeGrasse

Freelance tech journalist Martha DeGrasse (@mardegrasse) is delighted to be contributing to Mobile World Live. Martha has written for a number of telecom and wireless publications, and was a writer, editor and video producer at RCR Wireless News for almost...

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