OneWeb gets green light to pipe internet through 720 orbiting satellites


America's broadband watchdog, the FCC, has approved OneWeb's proposal to launch an ISP on the backs of 720 orbiting satellites.

The regulator said it would allow the ISP to offer its service in the US once it makes good on the plan to send 720 satellites into low earth orbit (LEO) and bounce data transmissions around the world.

Specifically, the FCC's order [PDF] grants OneWeb the right to transmit over six wireless bands (10.7-12.7 GHz, 14-14.5 GHz, 17.8-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.3 GHz, 27.5-29.1 GHz, and 29.5-30 GHz) and creates a procedure for the company to build and operate the base stations that relay transmissions.

FCC approval has been critical to the plan, as it would be nearly impossible to invest in the launches without the guarantee of a market for the service.

"Today, we grant OneWeb's petition for US market access," said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

"OneWeb is leading the charge with its planned constellation of 720 satellites, and others are close behind. After OneWeb filed its petition, several other companies did the same or applied for a US license in the same spectrum bands. These applications are being reviewed by the International Bureau's excellent satellite engineering experts. We hope to approve many more constellations because we know that the more companies compete, the more consumers win."

OneWeb, backed by Softbank, is seeking to ultimately put over 1,000 satellites into non-geostationary LEO with the aim of providing broadband internet service in remote areas that can't be reached with current cable or mobile internet services. ®

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