FCC looks to approve SpaceX’s satellite internet plan

SpaceX is planning to send up a pair of its own satellites in this weekend’s launch, in order to test a proposed space-based broadband internet service. But if you want to get into the broadband business, first you have to get past its U.S. gatekeepers: the FCC. Fortunately for SpaceX, Chairman Ajit Pai is all for it.

Pai issued a statement today saying that satellite internet might be able to “help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach.”

Satellite internet is nothing new, of course, and has its own considerable limitations. But a new generation of the technology is certainly worth pursuing — especially if it’s from a U.S. company. Pai wrote:

Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans. If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.

The SpaceX application was filed late in 2016, and the chairman’s enthusiasm now suggests it’s soon to be considered and, with luck, approved. No doubt we’ll hear when it happens.