The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved an application by SpaceX to provide broadband services using a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.
SpaceX has proposed launching and operating a constellation of 4,425 satellites using Ka-Band (20 and 30 GHz) and Ku-Band (11 and 14 GHz) links. The user downlink would be in the 10.7 to 12.2 GHz band, while the uplink would fall in the 14 to 14.5 GHz band.
The FCC’s action, contained in a Memorandum Opinion, Order and Authorization, defines the requirements for SpaceX to provide broadband services while ensuring compliance with FCC rules and noninterference with other services using the same bands.
Satellites can provide global coverage, particularly rural areas that are difficult to serve with terrestrial networks. The SpaceX LEO constellation will orbit between 1,110 and 1,325 km, resulting in a round trip latency on the order of 10 ms — competitive with terrestrial networks and significantly less than for a geostationary satellite, at >480 ms.
During the past year, the FCC also approved requests by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to use satellite technology to provide broadband services to the U.S. market.