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Elon Musk’s SpaceX: We now want to bring Starlink internet from space to 5 million in US

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied for a license to roll out five million ‘UFO on a stick’ end-user terminals, after 700,000 US residents signed up to be updated about the service’s availability. 

“SpaceX seeks to increase the number of fixed earth stations authorized under this blanket license from 1,000,000 to 5,000,000,” the company said in an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC in March approved SpaceX’s request to operate one million end-user terminals in the US. Then in June the company invited potential customers to register their interest in Starlink broadband by providing their email address and zip code. 

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SpaceX told the FCC it is applying for five million end-user terminals “due to the extraordinary demand for access to the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system”.

The invite was opened as part of SpaceX’s plan to launch the Starlink public beta in North America in the coming month, by which time it will have put into orbit just 600 of the 12,000 satellites the FCC has approved for launch. 

“Despite the fact that SpaceX has yet to formally advertise this system’s services, nearly 700,000 individuals represented in all 50 states signed up over a matter of just days to register their interest in said services at www.starlink.com,” SpaceX said in its new application. 

“To ensure that SpaceX is able to accommodate the apparent demand for its broadband internet access service, SpaceX Services requests a substantial increase in the number of authorized units.” 

SpaceX filed for the new authorization on July 31, one day after the FCC approved Amazon’s Project Kuiper application to launch 3,236 broadband beaming satellites. Amazon plans to open its service once 578 Kuiper satellites have been launched. 

While none of the nearly 700,000 people is yet a Starlink subscriber, the volume of early interest in Starlink satellite broadband reflects both Musk’s marketing nous and the number of people in the US population who aren’t satisfied with existing broadband options.

House Democrats in June announced a proposal to overhaul the current FCC definition of broadband by reclassifying 25Mbps download speeds as ‘unserved’ as part of a $100bn fiber broadband rollout.

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Elon Musk has said SpaceX needs about 400 Starlink satellites to provide “minor” coverage and 800 for “moderate” coverage in North America. He’s also said that Starlink will cater to just 3% to 4% of the population in unserved and underserved areas, but that it would not be suitable for dense urban environments due to bandwidth limitations. 

For the section of the population it does serve, SpaceX claims it will offer high-speed broadband with an estimated latency of less than 50 milliseconds

Also in June it asked the FCC for approval to launch a further 30,000 second generation satellites.

More on Elon Musk’s SpaceX and internet-beaming satellites

  • Amazon vs Elon Musk’s SpaceX: Bezos’ internet from space plan moves a step closer  
  • SpaceX Starlink internet-beaming satellite service takes next step for beta test  
  • SpaceX Starlink threat? Democrats propose $100bn US-wide fiber broadband project  
  • SpaceX Starlink internet prepares for beta users  
  • SpaceX: We’ve launched 32,000 Linux computers into space for Starlink internet  
  • Elon Musk: SpaceX’s public beta of internet from space service coming by fall 2020  
  • New SpaceX launch: Starlink now has 360 internet-beaming satellites, as US service nears  
  • Coronavirus: SpaceX internet-beaming rival OneWeb files for bankruptcy over COVID-19  
  • Elon Musk: SpaceX’s internet from space should be good enough for online gaming  
  • Internet from space: Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches 60 new satellites for US service  
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX warned: Your internet-beaming satellites disrupt astronomy  
  • Elon Musk’s internet from space: 60 new SpaceX satellites bring US service closer  
  • Elon Musk: Here are SpaceX’s first 60 Starlink internet-beaming satellites  
  • Amazon’s big internet plan: 3,236 satellites to beam faster, cheaper web to millions
  • Elon Musk: 70 percent chance I’ll move to Mars
  • SpaceX launch certification faces Pentagon review
  • SpaceX authorised to reduce number of satellites
  • SpaceX approved to send over 7,000 satellites into orbit
  • Jeff Bezos reveals design of Blue Origin’s future rocket, New Glenn
  • Why wireless ISPs are still necessary in the age of 5G TechRepublic
  • Elon Musk mocks Jeff Bezos’ Blue Moon lander in cheeky tweet CNET

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