SpaceX is now one step closer to its goal of providing an alternative wireless internet solution to consumers using a network of satellites after the company received the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) approval for its Starlink project.
The Starlink plan gained a significant boost in September last year when SpaceX filed papers seeking to trademark the name Starlink for the project first introduced in 2015. The goal is to deliver high-bandwidth, low-latency internet across the world using 4,425 satellites, which will range from 1,110 kilometers to 1,325 kilometers in altitude.
SpaceX hopes the Starlink constellation will be able to achieve a latency of as low as 25 milliseconds, which is on par with DSL connections but not as fast as direct-to-home fiber speeds. In the long run, Starlink is expected to help expand internet access to remote and underserved regions. The satellites are scheduled to launch into space beginning in 2019 through 2024, though SpaceX sent forth the first pair of demonstration satellites to space last month onboard a Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Starlink proposal.
According to the FCC, the approval marks the first time that the agency grants permission to a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to offer broadband services using a modern low-Earth orbit satellite system. As part of the approval, SpaceX gained the authority to use frequencies in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) bands.
The FCC says it has also approved similar plans of OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat over the past year to provide broadband services in the United States using non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems.