Win for SpaceX's satellite internet plan

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WASHINGTON-A top federal regulator on Wednesday recommended approving Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s plan to provide internet service through huge arrays of earth-orbiting satellites, in a move that could expand broadband availability across the US and beyond. The initial satellite network would be smaller, however. FCC chairman Ajit Pai recommended approval of the company's plan, citing the need to bring internet to "hard-to-serve places" in the US.

If approved I have to wonder how ling it will take to deploy 4,425 satellites.

Satellite-powered internet is actually nothing new, but the plan from SpaceX promises to make it cheaper and far faster. Thank you to cageymaru for the story. "To bridge America's digital divide, we'll have to use innovative technologies", Chairman Pai said in a statement.

SpaceX was not immediately available for comment.

Cooper said satellites could help provide broadband access to rural communities.

But the company's application has been criticized by competitors like the Richard Branson-backed OneWeb, which received FCC approval for its own, smaller broadband satellite constellation past year.

This year's first West Coast has been set to be launched on Saturday, during when SpaceX has scheduled to fly its Spanish satellite in to the Earth's orbit Falcon 9 spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Pai's endorsement isn't exactly a surprise: The FCC already has given its approval to rival companies with similar plans, including OneWeb, Space Norway and Telesat. "If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies". A letter from OneWeb's attorneys to the FCC claims SpaceX has failied to "account for the safety risks of operating in such close orbital proximity to OneWeb and other systems". Longer-term, SpaceX has said that it might begin the launch of operational satellites as early as 2019. That low-orbit position could deliver broadband speeds equal to current speeds from traditional providers, the company says. One SpaceX filing this month mentions that a secondary payload on Saturday's Falcon 9 launch will include "two experimental non-geostationary orbit satellites, Microsat-2a and -2b".

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