Amazon seeks FCC approval for Kuiper satellite constellation system

Ewdison Then - Jul 8, 2019, 12:42am CDT
Amazon seeks FCC approval for Kuiper satellite constellation system

The number of Internet users, or at least the devices connecting to the Internet, is growing rapidly, far too quick and too high for our existing systems to accommodate. But while the numbers rise, Internet connectivity remains a luxury or even a dream in some areas of the world. Luminaries and visionaries are looking to the skies for the answer, envisioning constellations of satellites to beam down that precious commodity almost anywhere. Not to be left behind, Amazon has started the process to make its Project Kuiper system a reality to “delight customers.”

Amazon’s ambitions are no secret. It wants to create a system of satellites flying in low Earth orbit or LEO to deliver its services to as many people as possible. It already has the ground infrastructure to make that possible and all it needs is to get those satellites up in the air.

Before it does that, however, it needs to get approval from the FCC, which has a few requirements that Amazon is actually asking it to waive. One is that it wants to waive the requirement to provide service to the entire US and all territories, arguing that parts of Alaska are beyond the reach of satellite reception in the far north. That almost makes Bezos’ vision of broadband for all less believable. For a first attempt, however, that might not be so bad.

Kuiper Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary, plans to launch 3,236 satellites according to the FCC filing. Those will orbit at 366 to 391 miles above and the first of five phases will see 578 such satellites launched. Who will do the launch, however, is still an open question as Amazon may have some conflict of interest if it uses Bezos private Blue Origins company.

Amazon is hardly the only one eying a space in the sky. Elon Musk’s Space X already made a successful launch of a small batch of its Starlink constellation while OneWeb, Telesat, and LeoSat all have plans to do the same. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be a very crowded night sky soon if the FCC gives all these the green light.

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