Boeing is approved to launch Starlink competitor

The FCC granted Boeing approval to launch 147 low earth satellites, intending to supply broadband communications to customers, on November 3rd. This new constellation is in direct competition to other similar projects such as Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper. Boeing has until 2027 to start building the constellation. The FCC also pushed back against claims by SpaceX that this new constellation would interfere with Starlink, stating that operators must coordinate usage of common frequencies in good faith. At the moment, Starlink uses the crowded Ku and Ka band frequencies, but Boeing is planning to move into the rarely used and higher V band frequencies, where the competition for bandwidth is much weaker. This approval raises more concerns about light pollution and overcrowding of the LEO range which have been previously discussed in regards to Starlink and Kuiper.

This new constellation raises similar security concerns to Starlink, with overcrowding and space debris, but it may also be worth considering whether this is the next step in humanity’s growing dependence on space. While conventional internet providers are still far superior to satellite internet, this may not be true in the future, and there are many places where conventional internet can’t reach which will be serviced by these constellations. A growing portion of the Earth’s population will be using satellite internet to maintain their connection to the rest of the planet and drive critical communications and infrastructure. This could make such constellations a prime target for terrorism. Additionally, with several competitors vying for the same market share, each company will be interested in protecting their IP from cybersecurity attacks. Boeing’s move into the rarely used V band could represent some new technologies that could be ripe for scooping if it isn’t adequately protected.

Critical networks are most at risk, if a portion of the Earth’s population comes to depend on these constellations as their main internet provider. Critical data in the form of intellectual property could also be at risk.