The Federal Communications Commission has approved Boeing’s project to deploy a satellite Internet network. The project was first proposed in 2017 and has only now finally received the green light. Now, the company can begin developing and launching the network and compete with SpaceX and its Starlink.
The Boeing project implies putting 132 satellites into low Earth orbit at an altitude of 1,056 kilometers. Another 15 satellites will be in non-geostationary orbit at an altitude of 27,355 to 44,221 kilometers. The company has stated that, so far, it plans to provide broadband Internet access to private users, government agencies and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Boeing plans to enter the global market once the network is fully deployed.
All 147 satellites will transmit signals on the v-band. Thus, the company plans to provide users with a better connection than Starlink and Amazon with the Kuiper project, whose satellites broadcast on the ka and ku band. Using the v-band provides higher data rates, but is at risk of interference. SpaceX plans to use v-band only in some satellites and does not rely on the technology entirely.
Boeing now has six years to launch half of the network’s satellites and nine years to finally deploy the system. Notably, the company originally asked the Federal Communications Commission to relax the requirements and launch only five satellites in the first six years and give twelve years to complete the technology, but the agency rejected the request.
In 2019, SpaceX expressed misgivings about Boeing’s technology and sent a statement to the commission that new satellites in low-Earth orbit could increase collision risks. The Starlink devices, in turn, orbit the Earth at an altitude of 550 kilometers. There are also OneWeb satellites and soon to be Amazon devices. Furthermore, in April of this year, SpaceX and OneWeb reportedly had to implement measures to prevent collision. This was, however, denied according to a report on the incident.
Picture source: Boeing