What just happened? The Federal Communications Commission has finally approved Boeing’s request to build, deploy and operate a constellation of satellites that’ll be used to provide broadband Internet and communications services to residential, commercial, institutional and governmental customers in the US and elsewhere.

Boeing submitted its application to the FCC way back in March 2017, requesting permission to launch 132 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in a circular orbit roughly 656 miles up. Another 15 NGSO satellites would operate at an altitude between 16,997 miles and 26,235 miles above Earth.

The system will initially provide services to those in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Once fully deployed, service will be expanded globally, we’re told.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said advanced satellite broadband services have an important role to play in connecting hard-to-serve communities. “We are committed to a careful and detailed review of all such applications and I thank the International Bureau team for their work completing this first round of NGSO applications,” she added.

Satellite Internet services have been around for many years but virtually all of the early offerings were considered absolute last resorts due to their low speeds, high latency and dodgy reliability. These newer offerings promise to be better across the board and might actually be consistently usable in regions lacking traditional means of access.

With SpaceX, Amazon and now Boeing all set to enter the satellite Internet marketplace, low Earth orbit and beyond is no doubt going to become much more crowded in the coming years. Fortunately, firms like Privateer Space plan to keep an eye on the situation and help clean up space junk when the need arises.

Image courtesy Pixnio