By Emily Price
February 14, 2018

Elon Musk’s plan to use satellites to beam Internet to Earth just got a key endorsement Wednesday from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.

Pai issued a statement Wednesday in support of the project and urged his colleagues to follow suit:

Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans. If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.

SpaceX, which filed an application in late 2016 for a “space-based broadband business,” will need the blessing of the federal government in order to make that dream a reality.

In May, the company’s vice president of satellite government affairs, Patricia Cooper, detailed its plans to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology. The idea is to send satellites into space (4,425 to be exact) that can then be used to provide broadband access to people on Earth. The service could be especially useful for those living in rural areas where broadband access is currently limited and allegedly can provide “fiber-like speeds.”

SpaceX plans to launch of a pair of satellites to test the service this weekend.

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