SpaceX was given permission by the Federal Communications Commission to be able to launch satellites that would send high-speed internet signals to portions of the Earth. SpaceX's new service is called Starlink and could be up as early as 2019.
This would provide internet access to portions of the country where it was previously unavailable due to their remote locations.
Internet From Space
People would be able to connect to the internet by just being in a certain area, instead of looking for a hot spot to go online. This would add new competition in places where there are already several internet service providers like major urban centers. It could reduce prices, increase speeds, and improve service.
Starlink would work by launching a system of 4,425 low-orbit satellites that would allow devices to connect to the internet using Ka and Ku bands. This type of service is already used on airplanes, but SpaceX's service comes with the promise of fiber optic speed. SpaceX expects to launch at least 800 satellites into orbit next year to get the service online.
Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said that the company still has much to do to prepare for this complex task. Shotwell says that the company hopes to launch a reliable and affordable service, especially for those that still don't have adequate internet connections.
It made seem insane that in this day and age there are still places that don't have adequate internet services in place. The FCC reports that the number of Americans without access to both fixed terrestrial broadband and mobile broadband is 34.5 million people.
The FCC is trying to build-up broadband infrastructure in rural areas. Internet service providers have a strange relationship with the FCC. When it comes to issues when they feel affected, they want the agency to fight for them. However, when the FCC needs something, there is strong pushback among the companies.
In October 2017, the FCC was considering whether it should gather more accurate data about the deployment of broadband access. Cable and telecom lobby groups fought the agency against collecting data. They basically didn't want to tell the FCC what homes have access to broadband and which ones don't.
The FCC made the decision late on March 29, and it said that this was the first time that it authorized a satellite operation to use broadband technology.
If there is one thing internet service providers don't like, it is more competition. Internet service providers have fought hard against competitors looking to revolutionize the market like Google Fiber. It still hasn't been seen how the companies will react to this new space-based competitor.
SpaceX takes on ambitious projects like sending people to Mars and reusing boosters for its rockets.