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SpaceX will make 1 million user terminals for LEO satellite internet

2020-03-25 19:32 by

 

The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX's application to roll out a million user terminals in the US to connect with its growing Starlink satellite broadband network. The approval gives SpaceX a 15-year "blanket license for the operation of up to 1,000,000 fixed earth stations that will communicate with its non-geostationary orbit satellite system".

The SpaceX manufactured terminal units will have antennas measuring 0.48 meters in diameter (1.57 feet). They will have motors that automatically swivel the thin, flat disc to optimally point to the Starlink satellites. Musk said the terminals should be simple enough for general users to install and that there will be just two setup instructions: plug in socket, point at sky. Aside from automatically tracking the satellites, the user terminals use phased-array beam-forming and digital processing to efficiently use Ku-band spectrum.

Starlink has launched six batches of 60 Starlink satellites each already using Falcon 9 rockets, for a total of 360 satellites currently in orbit. According to Musk, another launch should enable minor coverage of the US, and it is scheduled for April. While one million user terminals doesn't sound much for a nation with 120 million households, Musk says the Starlink satellite broadband service aims only to deliver coverage to 3% to 4% of the US population that haven't been reached by traditional broadband providers.

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