Boeing, Astra, Amazon, and many other companies have applied to launch nearly 38,000 satellites

In the United States, a number of space companies submitted applications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for new or expansion of space broadband Internet, requesting regulatory approval to launch a total of nearly 38,000 satellites.

Companies such as Amazon, Astra, Boeing, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Hughes Network, OneWeb, SpinLaunch, and Telesat all require the FCC to approve the use of the so-called V-band spectrum. These companies hope to use these frequency bands to provide global broadband services from space.

The deadline for the FCC's latest round of V-band proposals is midnight on Thursday, prompting a number of companies to urgently submit applications. Chris Quilty, founder of Quilty Analytics, a research and investment company focused on satellite communications, said: "It's like an enclosure."

Quilty explained: "The most difficult aspect of building a low-Earth orbit broadband system is acquiring spectrum, not manufacturing and launching satellites. Every company that has future plans in this field tries to capture these currently unowned lands. ."

It is worth noting that the companies that submitted applications on Thursday have different backgrounds and existing plans.

Amazon is working to build an initial space internet consisting of 3236 satellites, called "Project Kuiper". Astra is a rocket manufacturer and has previously announced plans to start building satellites. Boeing received FCC approval earlier this week to use 147 satellites to build a space internet.

OneWeb, owned by the United Kingdom, initially planned to deploy 648 satellites in orbit and has now completed about half of the deployment. Canadian operator Telesat is planning to build a satellite Internet called LightSpeed, which consists of 298 satellites. SpinLaunch focuses on building alternative launch systems, while Inmarsat, Intelsat, and Hughes Network have existing satellite communication networks.

The number of satellites submitted by companies on Thursday to apply for launch: 7774 for Amazon, 13620 for Astra, 5789 for Boeing, 198 for Inmarsat, 216 for Intelsat, 1440 for Hughes Network, 6372 for OneWeb, 6372 for SpinLaunch 1190 pieces, and Telesat 1373 pieces.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has deployed 1,740 Starlink broadband satellites, but it is not among the most recent applicants. The FCC previously authorized SpaceX to launch about 7,500 V-band Starlink satellites, and the company is applying for a plan to launch nearly 30,000 satellites in its "Gen2" system.

Why do companies get together to submit applications?

It is not clear how the FCC will respond to the influx of applications and which applications have been authorized to launch. Armand Musey, president of Summit Ridge Group, which specializes in consulting on valuations of companies in the telecommunications and satellite industries, said these companies have the same motivation.

Musi said: "Everyone wants to place a bet in this area. One way is to apply for the construction of a satellite Internet, and then follow this path. They will figure out how they want to deploy it, or they may be right. Some changes were made to the initial application. But if you don’t take any action on the application, it is equivalent to giving up your eligibility to participate in the space feast."

In addition, Musi also stated that the FCC's historical role in this regard is to analyze whether applicants have submitted documents correctly, rather than "making judgments based on evaluating business plans."

One of the main problems brought about by the potential leap in the number of low-Earth orbit satellites is the increased risk of collisions and the creation of new space debris. The company’s proposals include manipulating systems and using the atmosphere to burn obsolete satellites as a way to counter these risks. They also recommend deploying satellites in a wider range of altitudes, from 600 kilometers to 10,000 kilometers or higher from the earth.

Musi said: "Space debris is one of the increasingly important issues that the industry needs to face. If there are too many satellites above the earth and they start to collide with each other, it is likely to have a chain reaction. People are worried about these satellites. Existential threat, but apart from individual governments, there is no authoritative agency to monitor and ensure that satellites are launched in a responsible manner."

V-band challenge

Satellite communication systems have traditionally focused on lower frequency spectrums, such as the C-band, but have increasingly moved to higher frequency bands. However, it is more difficult to use such as the Ka-band, Ku-band, and now the V-band. Musi said: "These frequency bands are difficult to use, but more bandwidth and throughput can be obtained, and the use of V-band technology is becoming more and more feasible."

However, Musi acknowledged that the business model is "still uncertain," and the market focus, potential broadband speeds, and more details are reflected in "a variety of different space Internet proposals." For now, the V-band is "essentially an asset, and you can get business through transactions."

Quilty said that using the V-band involves "the bottom line of physics." He said: "The higher the frequency band you use, the more susceptible it is to weather and other issues that reduce signal strength."

This means that companies need better antennas, more powerful satellites, and improved processing algorithms to provide consumers with V-band services. However, the company has gradually overcome technical barriers, which has increased the potential use of the V-band.

Musi said: "Over time, the entire history of wireless communications, whether it is satellite or terrestrial, has been a process of slow migration to higher frequency bands. The question is: when can you bring the price down to a commercially feasible level? ?"

Quilty also emphasized that the lack of a strong supply chain is another challenge faced by companies that want to build V-band satellites and terrestrial systems. He said: "This process is costly, it is still in the early stages, and the source of supply is limited. I think companies trying to manufacture these parts themselves will encounter major engineering challenges."

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