Pai Backs SpaceX's Broadband Play

Says FCC should approve application to launch satellite service

FCC chair Ajit Pai has recommended to the other commissioners that they approve an application by SpaceX to launch a global, satellite-delivered broadband service.

"Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans," Pai said in a statement.

Related: SpaceX Launches EchoStar XXIII Bird Into Orbit

Pai said the country would need innovative approaches like SpaceX's and others, to bridge the digital divide, a key FCC priority, and to provide broadband competition, another FCC goal.

"Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach," Pai said. "And it can offer more competition where terrestrial Internet access is already available."

Related: ViaSat-2 Satellite Deemed ‘Ready for Service’

The FCC has already approved applications by OneWeb, SpaceNorway and Telesat to access U.S. markets to provide satellite-delivered broadband.

Google was a big investor in SpaceX, presumably to get in on the satellite broadband play.