Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX wants federal approval to change its small satellite launch strategy to help it bring broadband Internet from space to Southern states like Alabama late next year.
(TNS) — Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX wants federal approval to change its small satellite launch strategy to help it bring broadband Internet from space to Southern states like Alabama late next year.
That could be a breakthrough for thousands of rural Alabamians with no high-speed Internet now. The state is trying to help as well with a new push backed by grant money.
SpaceX has launched 60 small satellites into Earth orbit to test its Starlink system, and it plans to launch more by the end of this year. The company’s ultimate plan is to launch thousands.
The company asked the Federal Communications Commission Aug. 30 for permission to “adjust the orbital spacing of its satellites to speed up wider availability of the system."
SpaceX told the FCC its first launch of 60 satellites "has confirmed that its groundbreaking deployment process, combined with the capabilities of its satellites and launch vehicle, will allow it to optimize its system with a slight realignment of its already-licensed satellites at their authorized altitudes.
“This adjustment will accelerate coverage to southern states and U.S territories," the application said, "potentially expediting coverage to the southern continental United States by the end of the next hurricane season and reaching other U.S. territories by the following hurricane season.”
The company’s ultimate plan is to beam high-speed Internet links to homes and other locations almost anywhere via a receiver about the size of a pizza plate. That receiver could be placed on the roof of a home in the country or the roof of an ocean-going ship.
Alabama has also been trying harder to help. The legislature passed the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act in 2018 to set up a fund to make grands to organizations qualified and ready to bring the Internet to rural areas. The law recognized that areas without Internet lag in economic development, educational opportunities, health care and emergency services.
Estimates say more than 800,000 people in Alabama have no wired link to the Internet that can handle 25mbps download speeds. More than 1 million have only one wired provider, and between 250,000 and 300,000 have no wired Internet availability at all.
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