Advanced Television

Boeing scraps plans for super-constellation

October 31, 2023

Two years ago Boeing received a licence from the FCC for a satellite broadband mega-constellation of 147 low Earth orbiting satellites. It has now cancelled its scheme.

Boeing’s initial scheme – formally proposed in 2017 – was for a V-band constellation of 132 satellites operating ln Low-Earth Orbit and 15 non-Geostationary orbiting craft to supply broadband internet and communications services to residential consumers, government and business users in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The original FCC order said the plan would also provide high speed data access globally once fully in place.

Boeing VP Michelle Parker has reportedly said that for now, Boeing would not immediately pursue the V-band constellation, commenting: “We are confident V-band will someday be commercialised as global demand for satellite broadband connectivity continues to increase.”

Professor Tim Farrar (of TMF Associates) said in an online message that the original motivation for Boeing to apply back (initially) in 2016 was rumoured to be a desire to build satellites for Apple, noting: “But it was always a mystery what customer was behind the push to get this license a couple of years ago.”

Two years ago Boeing had asked the FCC to waive timeline milestones that require satellite operators to deploy half of their fleets within six years of receiving a licence. Boeing wanted to populate the fleet with just five satellites initially withing six years and then launch the balance within 12 years. SES, at the time, objected to this variation from the FCC’s normally rigid rules.

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