Boeing has decided to surrender its license for a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation project that would have competed with SpaceX’s Starlink network. The company formally relinquished its license and paid a $2.2 million forfeiture penalty to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Boeing’s license was originally granted in November 2021 but was officially revoked by the FCC on October 12. Michelle Parker, Vice President of Boeing Space Mission Systems, stated that Boeing is committed to responsible spectrum allocation and space usage. While the company remains optimistic about the commercial potential of V-band for satellite internet, it is currently prioritizing more immediate growth steps. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk commented on Boeing’s decision, emphasizing the challenges of competing with SpaceX. Musk’s Starlink network currently has over 4,900 operational units in low Earth orbit.
Boeing had expressed interest in establishing partnerships for a Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) constellation, focusing more on business-to-business arrangements similar to OneWeb’s model. The company launched its Varuna prototype satellite in September 2022 to test technologies intended for its satellite constellation. However, Boeing is not currently pursuing a V-Band constellation and will continue to invest in opportunities to push the boundaries of connectivity in space. The FCC had initially granted Boeing a license for a 147-satellite V-band constellation, which the company later requested to expand to over 5,000 satellites. The FCC denied Boeing’s request to relax deployment rules and prevent spectrum squatting. Despite Boeing’s withdrawal, other potential rivals in the satellite internet market, including Amazon’s Project Kuiper, OneWeb, Telesat, and Astra, are actively making strides.