Musk wants 1m Earth stations

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which plans to girdle the planet with at least 4425 broadband-delivering ‘Starlink’ satellites in a mega-constellation, has now followed up by asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for blanket approval for up to 1 million Earth stations to receive and transmit signals.

The filing stresses that granting the application is in the public interest, and goes on to explain how demand for bandwidth for broadband and related services is growing exponentially (“exploded”) and there’s an urgent need to close the digital divide.

The 8-page application, filed with the FCC on February 1st by SpaceX Services, seeks licence authorisation for operation of up to 1 million Earth stations that end-user customers will utilise to communicate with SpaceX’s constellation.

SpaceX adds: “These user terminals employ advanced phased-array beam-forming and digital processing technologies to make highly efficient use of Ku-band spectrum resources by supporting highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites.  Consistent with SpaceX’s space station authorization, these earth stations will transmit in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band and receive in the 10.7-12.7 GHz band.  The FCC’s rules specifically contemplate blanket licensing for earth stations operating in these frequency bands.”

The filing reminds the FCC that SpaceX, which already has two test satellites in orbit, plans to start adding to these pair this year with multiple rocket launches, and a service introduction next year.


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