Chairman Pai attends the opening of OneWeb's satellite manufacturing facility in Florida

Thank you to OneWeb Satellites for inviting me to the opening of the world’s first facility to manufacture satellites using industrial-scale mass production techniques.  It’s an honor to join such a distinguished roster of guests to mark this milestone. Whether we are in the public or private sector, we are working together toward the same goal: promoting American innovation and investment in the New Space Age.  And the launch of this facility is a major step forward for our nation’s commercial space sector.  

It’s always a pleasure to be back in the Sunshine State, but today I’d like to start by turning your attention halfway around the world to South Korea.  Just this past Tuesday, OneWeb reported that it had successfully tested in Seoul the first six satellites of its planned constellation. Specifically, all of these satellites delivered broadband speeds of more than 400 Mbps, with average latency of just 32 milliseconds, and streamed high-definition video.  For comparison, that’s more than three times the average fixed broadband speed in the United States as measured by the Ookla Speedtest Global Index. And of course, OneWeb isn’t focused on providing high-speed broadband only in South Korea. They aim for global connectivity—hence, its name.

In order to do that, OneWeb is going to have to build a lot of satellites.  And I mean a lot. OneWeb envisions a constellation of nearly 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, providing high speed, low-latency broadband Internet service to the entire planet.  Everyone, everywhere. And they are going to build those satellites right here on the Space Coast. This factory is the world’s first-ever high-volume, high-speed advanced satellite production facility.  Eventually, it will churn out fifteen satellites a week. That’s more than two satellites every single day. This is much faster than it traditionally has taken to construct a satellite. By creating a high-volume manufacturing process, OneWeb is doing for the satellite industry what Henry Ford did for cars.  On behalf of the FCC, I wish OneWeb and the industry as a whole the best as they set out to write this exciting chapter in the future of our communications infrastructure.

I’m particularly pleased to be here this morning because the FCC under my leadership has been focused on promoting innovation in space.  Among other things, we’ve approved many proposals for low-Earth orbit, non-geostationary satellite orbit constellations. Indeed, in June 2017, OneWeb’s constellation was the first to receive the FCC’s signoff.  We’re working hard to lay the groundwork for next-generation communications infrastructure that will connect Americans no matter where they live. Low-Earth orbit satellite companies like OneWeb have a sky-high ambition: to close the digital divide around the globe.  Their technology holds special promise for bringing high-speed broadband service to those in rural, Tribal, and remote areas, connecting many who have never been connected before. This meshes well with the FCC’s twin priorities of closing the digital divide and promoting innovation.

The new space economy won’t just lead to better connectivity from the skies.  Here on terra firma, it’s also creating high-paying jobs and boosting our nation’s economy.  For example, this factory will support 250 new jobs and represents $85 million in capital investment.  That’s good news for Brevard County, Florida and for the hundreds of businesses in the United States, small and large, that make up the long supply chains that support this cutting-edge industry. 

I’d like to close by returning for just a moment to the first six satellites in OneWeb’s constellation, which were launched from French Guiana just six months ago.  What interests me about these spacecraft isn’t just what they can do, but also what they are called. As part of OneWeb’s initiative to connect schools, each satellite is named in honor of a school in a remote part of the world without much traditional Internet access.  These schools are far-flung, representing Alaska and Ecuador, Honduras and Kyrgyzstan, Nepal and Rwanda. Connecting schools like these to the Internet will help countless children around the world dream of a future that wasn’t possible before. That will help show the positive impact that American’s leadership in the new space economy can have in improving the lives of millions of people here on Earth.  

It’s an honor to be with you today to mark the opening of this facility.  Thank you for your innovative efforts to close the digital divide and best of luck in the exciting days to come.

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