FCC Approves Boeing Broadband Application

A communications satellite orbiting Earth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The FCC has approved a license application from The Boeing Company for the construction and deployment of a constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to deliver broadband for homes, schools businesses and government uses in the U.S. and around the world.

The FCC under predecessor Ajit Pai and now acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel has approved a number of such satellite delivered broadband plans--OneWeb, SpaceX--to boost broadband competition and access. “Advanced satellite broadband services have an important role to play in connecting hard-to-serve communities,” said Rosenworcel of the FCC's latest approval.

Boeing is planning to launch a non-geostationary fixed orbital satellite system using some V-band spectrum. It dismissed Boeing's request to use some other portions of the V band and the Ka band, as well as certain waivers the company sought, saying it was not convinced that spectrum could be used without interference to others and because the spectrum that is not allocated internationally for such operations.

The FCC order released Wednesday (Nov. 3) approved Boeing's plan to launch 132 LEOs to initially provide broadband internet to the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, then eventually serve the globe with its full complement of satellites.

One fan of satellite delivered broadband is Virginia's newly elected governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin. In a pre-election interview on Fox about the billions of dollars in broadband spending in the Biden-backed infrastructure bill, he suggested that flying rather than digging was the way to go.

Youngkin said that in Bedford County, Virginia, rural broadband was a big problem, but said the idea of spending "billions of dollars of taxpayer money to dig trenches" was a two decade old answer. He said the private sector was in the process of "figuring out how to deliver low earth orbit satellite technology today," as is North Carolina, in a "much more cost-effective way."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.