Boeing to deploy 132 low-Earth satellites, despite SpaceX petition

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has tapped Boeing to launch its own 132 low-Earth satellites orbiting at an altitude of 1,056 kilometers, while the other 15 will be non-geostationary, meaning they follow the rotation of the Earth, according to the filing.

Boeing has six years to launch half of its satellite constellation and nine years to build out the rest of the network, despite having asked for an agreement to extend the build-out to 12 years, but the commission denied it.

SpaceX’s Starlink will eventually have more competition in the satellite broadband business and rural Americans will have more providers to choose from. Boeing will offer broadband to the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as it’s building out its network, then plans to expand its satellite internet service globally.

SpaceX filed a petition to the FCC earlier last year following Boeing’s initial application submission in 2017. The petition claimed that Boeing’s deployment plan would cause interference with its satellites and crowd Earth’s lower orbit; the FCC denied SpaceX’s claims.

The multinational corporation has some advantages over SpaceX’s Starlink network, at least in terms of faster data transfer rates. According to the company, 147 Boeing satellites can broadcast in the fifth band, the high-frequency radio spectrum, whilst Starlink uses the Ka- and Ku- bands, which commercial airlines use to access in-flight internet.

Both companies have other competitors as well, including Amazon, who’s planning to launch two satellites in late 2022 as part of the Kuiper broadband satellite project effort, and approved by the FCC last year.

The tech giants are also up against existing satellite internet providers like HughesNet, Viasat, and OneWeb. Hence, this process can give a more viable satellite broadband and narrows the digital divide in America for the fact that more competition can only be good for consumers.