Amazon invested $ 10 billion to compete with SpaceX in satellite broadband

Getty Images | Yuichiro Chino

Amazon has received US approval to launch 3,236 low-Earth Orbit satellites for its planned “Project Kuiper” broadband service.

A Federal Communications Commission order approving Amazon’s application was issued Thursday. Amazon said in a blog post that it would invest more than $ 10 billion in the project.

“This investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the United States, build and scale our grassroots network, accelerate satellite testing and manufacturing, and provide us with an affordable customer terminal that is increasingly available to communities around the world Will make reliable broadband accessible. Amazon would target areas without good Internet service and said “Project Kuiper will provide high-speed, low-latency broadband service to locations beyond the reach of traditional fiber or wireless networks.”

Planned satellites will orbit at altitudes of 590 km, 610 km, and 630 km, allowing much shorter delays than traditional satellite services, which use geosynchronous orbits of more than 35,000 km. It is similar to SpaceX’s Starlink, but SpaceX is far ahead with it, as it has launched about 600 satellites and is getting ready to start beta testing with customers.

Commencing service after launch of 578 satellites

FCC regulations give Amazon six years to launch and operate 50 percent of licensed satellites, with a July 30, 2026 deadline. Amazon will have to launch the rest of the licensed satellites by 30 July 2029.

The FCC said, “After launching the first 578 satellites,” Amazon plans to offer broadband to customers. Amazon has not said when the service will be available to customers.

FCC approval said Amazon’s plan would be “successful”[e] Continuous coverage for customers within approximately 56 ° N and 56 ° S latitudes, serving the contiguous United States, Hawaii, US territories, and other world regions. “The plan calls for using frequencies of 17.7–18.6 GHz and 18.8–20% GHz. 27.5–30.0 GHz for space-to-earth communication, and transmission from Earth to space. The FCC said it granted the license because it “Will advance the public interest by authorizing a system designed to increase the availability of high-speed broadband service.” For consumers, government and businesses. “

Amazon filed an FCC application in July 2019 — more details on Amazon’s plan are available in our story on the application.

FCC approval includes minimizing orbital debris and the risk of collisions, prevention of harmful interference, spectrum sharing and power limits. Amazon’s design of the Kuiper satellites is not complete, so the company will need another FCC approval after submitting a final plan for orbital-debris mitigation, collision risk and “re-entry contingency risk”. The FCC’s approval on Amazon has also been conditioned to receive a “favorable” rating from the International Telecommunications Union to comply with the power limit.

In addition to SpaceX, Amazon’s Project Kuiper will likely face low-earth satellite competition from OneWeb, which filed for bankruptcy in late March. On 3 July, OneWeb agreed to sell the business to consortiums including the UK Government and Bharti Global Limited. The UK government, investing $ 500 million, said “the deal will enable the company to complete the construction of a global satellite planetarium that will provide enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.” OneWeb also has investments from Hughes, which operates geosynchronous satellites.

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