Elon Musk’s SpaceX/Starlink broadband satellite system has been given FCC approval to build and install 1 million ground-based receiving terminals.
The FCC’s approval runs for 15 years, and the 71-page decision (Public Notice SES-02250) issued on March 18th follows SpaceX’s application for ‘Blanket Licensed Earth Stations’ and explains that Musk’s initial plan is to launch and operate 4425 small satellites and “up to 1 million Earth stations”.
The 4425 satellites were already licensed.
The FCC licence states: “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 Commission’s rules specifically contemplate blanket licensing for earth stations operating in these frequency bands.”
The FCC explains its thinking: “Granting this application would serve the public interest by helping to speed broadband deployment throughout the United States by authorizing the ground-based component of SpaceX’s satellite system. US and worldwide demand for broadband services and Internet connectivity continues to increase with escalating requirements for speed, capacity, and reliability and ongoing adaptations for usage. The volume of traffic flowing over the world’s networks has exploded, with one report estimating that annual global Internet protocol traffic reached 1.5 zettabytes in 2017 – meaning that approximately 1,500 billion gigabytes of data were exchanged worldwide last year.”