Could you get your broadband service from SpaceX? That may become true of the FCC follows through with the recommendation of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.
SpaceX has proposed broadband service supported by low-earth orbit satellites rather than through stationary satellites like many incumbent providers. In a statement, Commissioner Pai said that the use of moving satellites could expand broadband access to hard to reach areas.
To bridge America’s digital divide, we’ll have to use innovative technologies. SpaceX’s application—along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S. market for non-geostationary satellite orbit systems—involves one such innovation. Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach. And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available.
SpaceX broadband is already available for customers that use HughesNet in rural areas, but the service has a reputation for being a bit choppy when it comes to access.
Over the past year, the FCC has approved requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to
access the United States market to provide broadband services using satellite technology that
holds promise to expand internet access in remote and rural areas across the country. OneWeb has emerged as the most likely competitor to SpaceX in terms of overall maturity of its service offering.
If combined with emerging technologies like TV White Space Broadband, or millimeter waves, a federated type network access could be closer to reality, but work will still need to be done to deal with capacity and latency issues. Watch this space.