Boeing has been granted permission to deploy satellites capable of beaming broadband internet from space.
The aerospace giant will be one of a growing number of companies working on the same goal, with SpaceX having already deployed more than 1,600 satellites in low Earth orbit for its fledgling Starlink service.
In a document released on Wednesday, November 3, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed that it had approved an application from Boeing for a license to “construct, deploy, and operate a satellite constellation.”
It added that by proceeding with the project, Boeing plans to provide “broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the United States and globally.”
Boeing is planning to launch 147 satellites, 132 of which are set to orbit about 600 miles (965 km) above Earth, while the remaining 15 will orbit between 17,000 and 27,000 miles (27,350-43,450 km) above our planet.
It’s not clear when Boeing is planning to serve its first customers. Digital Trends has reached out to the company and we will update this article when we hear back.
Besides SpaceX, which already has more than 100,000 users in 16 countries after launching its first batch of internet satellites in 2019, other companies such as OneWeb and Amazon (with its Project Kuiper initiative) are also aiming to use satellites to beam internet from space.
It’s a potentially lucrative business, with SpaceX boss Elon Musk believing it could generate around $50 billion in annual revenue for his company if it can grab even just a few percent of the global telecommunications market.
But not everyone is happy about the apparent clamor to place numerous internet satellites in low-Earth orbit. Besides the heightened risk of collisions that could create more hazardous space debris for operators of larger satellites, the internet satellites could also interfere with the work of astronomers, many of whom have already voiced concerns that their view of deep space could be impacted by sunlight reflecting off the satellites. SpaceX, for one, is trying to deal with the issue by applying an anti-reflective coating to the satellites that it sends into orbit.
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