Boeing gets green light for space-based internet

The company has until 2027 to begin building a new satellite broadband constellation.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX will have more competition in the satellite broadband business. Similar to SpaceX’s Starlink project, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has given Boeing the go-ahead to launch its own satellites.

The approval means that Boeing can now start building out its own satellite infrastructure. The company will launch 132 satellites into Low Earth Orbit at an altitude of 1056 kilometers. Another 15 will be launched at an altitude between 27355 and 44221 km. Boeing wants to offer broadband internet and communications services to users in the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands while the network gets built out, and on a global basis once it is complete.

Boeing now has six years to launch half of the satellites and 9 years to deploy the entire network. All the satellites, 147 in total, would broadcast in the V-band, a higher-frequency slice of the wireless spectrum than the Ka and Ku bands used by the Starlink network. V-band cloud allows for faster data transfer rates, but with a greater risk of interference because the higher frequencies have more trouble penetrating solid objects.

SpaceX has already expressed concern that Boeing’s network would create a “clear danger of harmful interference”. However, objections from rival satellite operators are common in these proceedings. The FCC rejected SpaceX’s argument.

SpaceX and Boeing are not the only companies competing in the race for a connected outer space. The FCC approved Jeff Bezos’ Amazon satellites last year. As a part of its Project Kuiper satellite broadband effort, Amazon will launch two satellites in late 2022.

Next to those three giants, there are several other existing satellite providers invested in space-based internet. Surely, this means more viable satellite broadband. More competition can only be good for the consumers.