Communications facilitated by equipment that orbits around the earth.
SpaceX is slated to launch the latest batch of 60 internet-beaming satellites for its ever-growing Starlink constellation on the night of June 3. Once this mission takes off, SpaceX will have launched a little more than 480 of its Starlink satellites into orbit. That’s only a small fraction of the nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites that the company has permission to launch. The goal of the massive project is to provide global internet coverage from space.
Things have now come to an all-out war between the Department of Defense and the Federal Communications Commission, with the Defense Department claiming that a recent decision by the FCC (on a 5-0 bipartisan vote) resolving a decades-long dispute with a company now called Ligado will interfere with vital GPS operations.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announces that Eutelsat SA, Intelsat US LLC, SES Americom, Claro S.A. f/k/a Star One S.A.
The American space industry holds tremendous potential to address [the challenge of the digital divide] through next-generation satellite broadband. The coming proliferation of small low-earth-orbit satellites promises to unleash internet connectivity with latency and speeds superior to existing satellite broadband options and competitive with cable and fiber offerings. And they will reach places that, due to difficult terrain and distance from population centers, have not shared in the benefits of expanding terrestrial networks.
On May 7, 2020, several Members of Congress wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to express deep concern about the FCC's approval of Ligado Networks request to modify licenses. "The national security community was unanimous in the judgement that approval of the use of certain portions of the L band spectrum could pose an unacceptable risk to the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the United States.
SpaceX and OneWeb have asked for US permission to launch tens of thousands of additional satellites into low Earth orbit. SpaceX's application to launch 30,000 satellites—in addition to the nearly 12,000 it already has permission for—is consistent with SpaceX's previously announced plans for Starlink. OneWeb's application to launch nearly 48,000 satellites is surprising because the satellite-broadband company filed for bankruptcy in March.
Reps Darren Soto (D-FL) and Bill Flores (R-TX) introduced the Leveraging American Understanding of Next-generation Challenges Exploring Space (LAUNCHES) Act, a bill that will eliminate unnecessary barriers that hamper the ability of private companies to obtain spectrum licenses required to launch rockets from US soil into space. The legislation:
FCC, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Advise Governors on Importance of Communications
In joint letters Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs encouraged the nation's governors to provide necessary access and resources to the communications workers helping to keep Americans connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FCC and CISA recommend the governors:
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, on behalf of the executive branch, particularly the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Transportation (DoT), respectfully petitions the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider or, in the alternative, to clarify its Order and Authorization. NTIA also requests that the FCC rescind its approval of the mobile-satellite service (MSS) license modification applications conditionally granted to Ligado Networks, which will cause irreparable harms to federal government users of the Global Positioning System (GPS).
While traditional satellite broadband generally suffers from latency of about 600ms, Elon Musk says that SpaceX's Starlink will offer "latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level." The Federal Communications Commission is not convinced that Starlink broadband network will be able to deliver the low latencies promised.