Elon Musk’s plan to provide high-speed broadband internet in Australia is one step closer to becoming a reality after receiving regulatory approval.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced SpaceX had been approved for inclusion on Australia’s Foreign Space Objects Determination (FSOD), paving the way for the company’s Starlink mission.
Inclusion on the list is essential before a foreign-owned satellite network is allowed to operate on specific frequencies in Australia.
“Inclusion in the determination does not confer a right on that entity to obtain a licence, rather it is a prerequisite before a space apparatus licence can be issued,” ACMA said.
SpaceX has said Starlink, a network of thousands of satellites, will become “the world’s most advanced broadband internet system”.
“Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive or completely unavailable,” the company’s website reads.
“Starlink is targeting service in the northern US and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near-global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 29, 2020
A few days after the approval on January 24, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites, its fourth successful launch for the program, from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Matt Botwin, SpaceX’s director of global satellite government affairs, wrote to ACMA during the submissions process in November, saying approval was an important step forward in SpaceX’s plan to offer “high-speed” satellite-based broadband to all Australians.
“Inclusion … [on] the FSOD will allow the company to begin the process of seeking regulatory approval to operate in Australia, including obtaining the required space apparatus licence,” he wrote.
SpaceX was one of three companies, along with Canadian company Kepler Communications and the US Swarm Technologies, to be approved to kickstart the process “to eventually obtain space apparatus licences to operate in Australia”.
They are the 18th, 19th and 20th inclusions on the list.