Pai Backs SpaceX's Broadband Play

Says FCC should approve application to launch satellite service
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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.