Elon Musk's satellite telco targets Australia

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Elon Musk's satellite telco targets Australia

Entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX has started the regulatory process to obtain permission to operate its Starlink satellite broadband service in Australia.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said the operator is one of three foreign companies seeking such permission.

The other two - Canada’s Kepler Communications and US firm Swarm Technologies - have satellite networks aimed at internet of things (IoT) applications.

“These operators have approached the ACMA to commence the regulatory approvals process to eventually obtain space apparatus licences to operate in Australia,” ACMA said in a consultation paper.

SpaceX is planning to provide broadband services via an initial constellation of 12,000 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, though it recently filed in the US to launch up to 30,000 more satellites than first expected in order to power the global internet service.

The services could be live as soon as next 2020.

The company had mooted plans to seek regulatory approval late last year when it implored the ACMA not to limit its potential coverage to only pockets of Australia.

The ACMA noted that any satellite operator wanting permission first needed to pass a “prerequisite” step of being added to the foreign space objects determination maintained by the authority. 

It is now seeking to amend that determination and has invited comment from industry.

“Inclusion of an entity in the foreign space objects determination does not confer a right on that entity to obtain a licence nor operate in frequency bands identified in the space object class licence,” the ACMA noted.

“Rather, it is a necessary prerequisite that must be in place before a space apparatus licence can be issued.”

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