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Apple among big tech companies reportedly in talks to buy Boeing communications satellite

Illustration of Boeing's 702SP satellite built for Asia Broadcast Satellite. | Source: Boeing

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Boeing is marketing advanced high-throughput communications satellites to large technology firms, such as Apple and Google, and could reach a deal to build a unit for a major industry player this year.

At the four-day Satellite 2015 conference, which kicked off on Monday, Boeing revealed to Reuters that tech firms like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are looking to enlarge the Internet's global footprint through the use of high-bandwidth satellites.

"The real key to being able to do these type of things is ultra high-throughput capabilities, where we're looking at providing gigabytes, terrabytes, pedabytes of capability," said Jim Simpson, vice president of business development and chief strategist for Boeing Network and Space Systems.

While Boeing declined to detail talks, the report mentions Apple as one of the few companies potentially engaging in the ongoing discussions.

Simpson said an obstacle to wide satellite communication adoption is end user cost. If prices are not reined in to something closer to terrestrial rates, customers are unlikely to sign up, which would leave participating tech companies with "a really high performance satellite."

The inherent high cost of building and inserting a geosynchronous satellite into Earth orbit poses a risk to buyers, especially for tech companies that do not operate their own telecommunications infrastructure and are thus without an installed user base. Telcos, on the other hand, can amortize upfront costs through existing or new services.

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, currently has plans to launch a cheaper solution that involves 4,000 low Earth orbit satellites. Earlier this year, SpaceX announced it had landed $1 billion in funding from investors, including an injection from Google.