Home / Blogs

Boeing's Satellite Internet Project

Larry Press

2,956 satellites orbiting at altitudes of 970, 1,034 and 1,086 km at inclinations of 45°, 55° & 88° (Source).I recently posted updates on the satellite Internet service projects of SpaceX and OneWeb. OneWeb and SpaceX have received a lot of publicity, but there is a third entry in the global satellite Internet race — Boeing.

Boeing has applied for a license to launch a constellation of 2,956 Internet-access satellites orbiting at an altitude of 1,200 km. (In a subsequent amendment, the orbits were lowered to three different levels). They outlined a two phase plan — the first 1,396 satellites would be operating within six years, and another 1,560 would be launched within 12 years as demand justified.

There has also been speculation that Apple may be funding and collaborating with Boeing on satellite Internet-service provision. (If you follow this link, read the comments).

Small cells around Washington DCBoeing will use beam-forming, digital processing and instantaneous handoff between overlapping satellite footprints to generate thousands of narrow spot beams, dividing the Earth's surface into 8-11 km diameter (50-95 km2) cells as illustrated here. Each cell will have 5 GHz bandwidth and, if a cell contains both user terminals and Internet gateways, time-division algorithms will enable frequency re-use to serve both. These are very smart radios!

In reviewing the FCC filings, I was struck by the degree of cooperation between the competitors. When Boeing proposed 1,200 km orbits, OneWeb filed a comment saying that would interfere with their design which also called for 1,200 km orbits. In response, Boeing met with OneWeb and altered their plan, lowering altitudes to 970, 1,082 and 1,030 km.

There were also concerns that waivers Boeing requested might lead to radio interference and SpaceX responded by stating that:

The Commission should encourage systems that facilitate spectrum sharing among licensed users. The waivers Boeing seeks will help to build a sensible regulatory environment for NGSO operations while honoring the goals of the rules at issue.

These companies value engineering as well as business. (Tesla has shared their patents — might SpaceX do the same)?

In researching this post, I came across two other Boeing filings — one for 60 high-altitude satellites (shown here) and another for a low-Earth constellation of 132 satellites and 15 high-altitude satellites. I imagine these smaller constellations will complement the larger constellation somehow but have not been able to learn how they will interact.

Sixty high-altitude satellites launched in three phase: the Amercas, Europe and Africa and Asia and Australia. Click to enlarge. (Source)

Boeing, OneWeb and SpaceX are from different generations. OneWeb and SpaceX are relatively recent startups and Boeing is venerable. The startups may have less legacy overhead and have gotten off to a faster start, but Boeing has been thinking about providing Internet service using a satellite constellation for over twenty years — they were the prime contractor for Teledesic's failed attempt in the late 1990s.

We have three potential global Internet service providers — SpaceX, OneWeb and Apple(?)/Boeing. I hope they all succeed, giving us some competition in the Internet service market. That might one day help current Internet customers who have only one choice for their service provider (like me), but it would surely be a boon for people with no terrestrial Internet access today.

By Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University. More blog posts from Larry Press can also be read here.

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Wireless

 
   

Don't miss a thing – get the Weekly Wrap delivered to your inbox.

Comments

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Dig Deeper

IP Addressing

Sponsored by Avenue4 LLC

Mobile Internet

Sponsored by Afilias Mobile & Web Services

Cybersecurity

Sponsored by Verisign

DNS Security

Sponsored by Afilias

Promoted Posts

Buying or Selling IPv4 Addresses?

ACCELR/8 is a transformative IPv4 market solution developed by industry veterans Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman that enables organizations buying or selling blocks as small as /20s to keep pace with the evolving demands of the market by applying processes that have delivered value for many of the largest market participants. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

Ofcom Benchmarking UK Broadband Performance Welcomed, But Needs Considerable Improvement

DotConnectAfrica Attends Transform Africa 2013 Summit in Rwanda

Dyn Research: CDN Adoption Across Our Customer Base

Neustar Chief Technology Officer Appointed to FCC's Technological Advisory Council

Neustar Expands Professional Services Offerings for Communications Service Providers

Reducing the Risks of BYOD with Nominum's Security Solution

Nominum and IBM Partner Around Big Data

Virgin Media Selects Nominum to Support London Underground WiFi Roll-out

Neustar Labs Innovation Center Grand Opening (Video)

How Secure is Your Mobile Network? And Does It Even Matter? (Webinar)

Nominum Survey of World's Leading ISPs Shows Nearly 60% of ISPs Plan to Roll-Out IPv6 by End of 2012

Nominum Launches Comprehensive Suite of DNS-Based Security Solutions for Russian Service Providers

Nominum Sets New Record for Network Speed and Efficiency

Implementing a Cyber-Security Code of Conduct: Real-Life Lessons From Australia (Webinar)

Neustar and University of Illinois Launch the Neustar Innovation Center

Australian ISP iiNet selects ARI Registry Services to Help It Apply for and Operate .iinet TLD

Nominum Launches World's First Purpose-Built Suite of DNS‐Based Solutions for Mobile Operators

Breaking the DNS: Another Look at How SOPA Could Be Destructive

72 Confirmed Talks - If You're Attending, Now is the Time to Register