SpaceX Wants to Beam Blazing-Fast Satellite Internet to the World

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SpaceX wants to provide low-latency, broadband internet to the entire globe. How? Well, it involves launching a fleet of over 4,425 low-orbit satellites — more than three times the number of satellites currently in orbit.

The space exploration company first asked the FCC for permission to launch those satellites last November. In a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX’s vice president of government affairs, detailed the company’s plans a bit more — including specifying an operational launch date: 2019. Those plans are available to view in a prepared statement to the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology.

SpaceX said that it’s planning on testing its communications satellites by the end of 2017 and through early next year. If all goes well, the company wants to launch the satellites in phases with its Falcon 9 rocket, starting in 2019 and ending at full-capacity, hopefully, in 2024. Once in orbit, the satellites will be flexible — able to focus and direct bandwidth to where it’s needed most. Best of all, the company said its space internet system will be cost-effective, too.

While current satellite internet systems are plagued by slows speeds and high-latency, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg in January that the proposed system will alleviate these issues, and will be able to provide internet speeds around 1 Gbps. Cooper’s statement today claims that, once at full-capacity, the array will beam “fiber-like” speeds across the globe — first to users in the U.S., and eventually to the entire world by 2024.

Cooper wrapped up her statement to the Senate with a variety of regulatory recommendations. For example, the company is arguing against current regulations that require NGSO systems to launch within six years of being licensed, as well as commercial launch caps put in place by the FAA. SpaceX also wants Congress to reward efficient spectrum use and revise some current satellite-spectrum policies and licensing processes. Lastly, the company said it wants to see more federal funding for satellite-based broadband projects, according to Engadget.

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