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SpaceX applies for 4,425-satellite network

Image: SpaceX and Space Needle
During SpaceX’s Seattle announcement about an Internet satellite network in January 2015, the company’s logo lit up Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. (GeekWire photo)

SpaceX has laid out further details about a 4,425-satellite communications network that’s expected to provide global broadband internet access, with its Seattle-area office playing a key role in its development.

The plan is explained in an application and supporting documents filed on Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission.

SpaceX is only one of several ventures aiming to deploy satellite-based internet services over the next few years. The others include OneWeb, a consortium with backing from Airbus, Virgin Galactic and other telecom players; and the Boeing Co., which envisions a low-Earth-orbit constellation with more than 1,000 satellites.

OneWeb is up against a 2019 regulatory deadline for beginning its service, but the time frame is squishier for SpaceX and Boeing.

In the technical information that accompanied its application, SpaceX said it would start commercial broadband service with 800 satellites.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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