Elon Musk of SpaceX asks for permission from the federal government to provide Internet services through satellite
According to The Washington Post, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX has requested permission from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to start testing on an ambitious project to beam high-speed internet via satellite, an important step in the direction that could create another major competitor to AT&T, Comcast and other telecom companies.
Musk first revealed his plans at a SpaceX event in Seattle in January this year. The plan involves launching a constellation of 4,000 low-cost satellites that would transmit high-speed internet signals to all parts of the globe, including its most remote regions. Musk has said the effort “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space.”
If the attempt turns out be successful, it would change SpaceX from a pure rocket company into a massive high-speed-internet provider that would not only compete against major companies in the developed world but also make Internet available for billions of first-time users who are currently not online.
Since long it has been the dream of important and famous business tycoons, which included Bill Gates in the 1990s to immerse Earth with internet signals from space. However, many of these projects have run into problems that Musk is working upon to avoid. Facebook has already shelved its multibillion dollar satellite project due to cost overruns. Musk who has his own rocket has said his large group of satellites will be more effective and low-cost than depending on a handful of big devices that are hard to substitute.
For example, DirecTV and Dish Network have depended on a few older satellites for years that are not only thrown farther into space but can only serve specific regions such as the United States. SpaceX’s web of satellites would enclose around Earth in low orbit, sending off internet signals to one another to make connections more trustworthy and to be able to reach out to more areas.
SpaceX’s tests will ascertain if its antenna technology is able to transmit high-speed internet access to devices on the ground. The company wants to start testing next year and could have its service available to the public in five years.
In January, SpaceX received $1 billion in funding from Google and Fidelity, a part of which is designated for the satellite internet project.
The filing made with the FCC late last month is the first public glimpse into how Musk will move ahead with the project.
It’s worth noting that Musk isn’t the only billionaire entrepreneur who is interested in this technology. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is on the board of directors at OneWeb, a company that’s also developing a satellite constellation capable of delivering internet access from space.