SpaceX seeks FCC license to build additional Starlink gateway stations as needed

SpaceX is looking to expand its ground stations across the US, filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for a “blanket” license to expand the ground-based infrastructure that underpins the satellite internet network. The license would enable SpaceX to build new “Ka band” gateway stations capable of beaming broadband data to first- and second-generation Starlink satellites on an as needed basis without further approvals.

According to the filing, each earth station will use up to 40 identical 1.85-meter antennas and simultaneously communicate with up to eight Gen1 satellites and up to thirty-two Gen2 satellites. SpaceX already has licenses to operate over 60 gateway earth stations in the country, but the company is now requesting a blanket license for the US to deploy earth stations quickly to meet rising demand and add capacity and connectivity as needs arise. (via PCMag)

The blanket license, SpaceX can build more ground stations as needed, which would help it to expand Starlink’s coverage and improve speeds and reliability. The FCC has yet to approve SpaceX’s application, but the company is hoping for a quick approval.

“This will both help to speed broadband deployment throughout the United States by enabling SpaceX Services to deploy gateways quickly to meet rising demand and add capacity and connectivity as needs arise, and also relieve the burden on the commission of processing SpaceX Services’ earth station applications,” the company said in the filing.

SpaceX’s second-generation Starlink network should improve speeds and address congestion issues that have hampered download and upload speeds for many customers in Canada and the US. The company started launching its second-gen Starlink mini satellites earlier this year, although some of them had difficulty maintaining orbit with some of them eventually returning burning up in the atmosphere as they returned to earth.

One of SpaceX’s new Starlink mini satellites deorbits

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