The Federal Communications Commission has authorized PointView Tech, a subsidiary of Facebook, to launch its CubeSat internet satellites — which will compete with SpaceX’s own Low-Earth-Orbit satellites.

The approval comes just a month after the FCC approved SpaceX’s plans to launch nearly 1,600 internet-transmitting satellites.

PointView will be launching its experimental millimeter-wave CubeSat satellite into orbit. The team’s broadband plans fall under the code name “Athena” in documents.

In a statement outlining Facebook’s vision in 2018, the company said that current broadband satellites suffer from high latencies due to high orbits. Alternatively, low-orbiting satellites could expand internet coverage drastically — which is the vision for Athena.

In 2018, Facebook called the Athena project a “small research and development experiment” — but it seems it will soon be ready for its first experimental launch.

Advertisement
Continue reading below

Facebook/PointView Tech’s Athena vs. SpaceX

The Athena project is far ways away from SpaceX’s own development of Low-Earth-Orbit satellites. However, the timing of PointView’s approval from the FCC is noteworthy.

Just last month, the FCC approved nearly 1,600 Starlink satellites to boost global internet connectivity. According to current timelines, SpaceX plans to launch at least half of its satellites over the course of the next six years. In fact, we can expect 60 of these satellites to launch either today (May 23) or tomorrow.

By anyone’s guess, it seems that Facebook is trying to compete with SpaceX in launching Low-Earth-Orbit satellites. However, it’s unlikely the social media giant will be able to catch up with Musk’s space venture since SpaceX is far further along in its development. That didn’t stop Facebook from mentioning SpaceX as a competitor back in 2018, however.

Competition for a Stronger Internet

The focus on Low-Earth-Orbit satellites will be a massive boom to internet connectivity worldwide. It will not only expand accessibility but it will also strengthen existing internet infrastructure.

If we really wish to transition to a more decentralized web, then Low-Earth-Orbit satellites are a must.

One can only imagine how quickly Ethereum’s network, for example, will expand when connecting and establishing a node becomes much more accessible. (Elon Musk has said he is a major fan of Ethereum).

Do you believe Low-Earth-Orbit satellites are the future of global internet connectivity? Who will win between Facebook and SpaceX? Let us know your thoughts below.