Boeing is getting closer to competing with satellite internet providers such as SpaceX and (in the long run) Amazon. Boeing’s application to launch a satellite broadband constellation has been approved by the FCC.
The network would serve residential, commercial, and government customers in the United States and around the world.
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Although the FCC rejected Boeing’s bid to use specific frequencies for satellite-to-satellite chatter, the satellites would be able to communicate with each other as well as with the ground.
The company has not stated when its satellite network will go live or what capabilities it will provide. However, Boeing’s Starlink would fly at much higher altitudes than SpaceX’s Starlink.
The majority of the constellation, 132 low-Earth orbit satellites, would fly at 656 miles altitude.
Meanwhile, a group of 15 non-geostationary orbit satellites would travel between 17,000 and 27,500 miles. Starlink operates at altitudes ranging from 215 to 350 miles. This may increase lag, though actual performance may vary.
The project has been in the works for quite some time. According to Reuters, Boeing first requested approval in 2017. It has also received some criticism — in 2019, SpaceX petitioned the FCC to either limit or reject Boeing’s plans due to the possibility of “harmful interference.”
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It may be some time before any satellite service is available. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see Boeing being patient. Satellite broadband could assist the transportation behemoth in making the most of its space unit and mitigating the impact of delays or other issues with its operations.
There’s also the simple matter of entering the satellite internet market before it’s too late. Amazon, SpaceX, OneWeb, and other companies are either launching satellites or have firm plans to do so. Boeing may lose important customers if it waits too long.