Amazon Seeks FCC Permission To Launch Broadband Satellites

Amazon Seeks FCC Permission To Launch Broadband Satellites

Things may get a little more crowded not far above our planet if Amazon’s recent application to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gets the thumbs-up.

Amazon’s Project Kuiper involves a constellation of small Low Earth Orbit satellites that the company says will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world.

Amazon Kuiper projectImage: TheDigitalArtist

The Kuiper System will consist of 3,236 satellites operating in 98 orbital planes at altitudes of 590 km, 610 km, and 630 km. The deployment will involve 5 stages, the first involving 578 satellites deployed at an altitude of 630km.  Service rollout will commence as soon as the first batch of satellites are launched; with coverage starting at 56˚N and 56˚S latitudes, then expanding toward the equator as more satellites are launched

As well as broadband connectivity for homes and business, Amazon says Kuiper will also enable mobile network operators to expand wireless services and provide high-speed mobile broadband connectivity for aircraft, marine vessels and land vehicles.

“Amazon shares the FCC’s vision that everyone should have access to high-speed broadband services at affordable prices, and we stand ready to make this vision a reality,” says one of the documents filed.

Amazon chose an interesting date to file its application with the FCC – July 4 – the USA’s Independence Day.

For those looking for a job that’s a bit different, the company has been on a hiring blitz for Project Kuiper – at the time of publishing, 77 positions were being advertised.

Founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon Jeff Bezos recently touched on the project in a “fireside chat” at re:MARS 2019.

Hiccups For SpaceX’s Starlink

Amazon will be playing catchup with Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project. In May, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that will have an operational altitude of 550km. The deployment created excitement, confusion and some fear due to the satellites initially forming a “train” that could be clearly seen from Earth. While there was plenty of buzz, the deployment hasn’t been without issues. Apparently, three of the Starlink satellites have failed in orbit.

SpaceX intends launching 12,000 Starlink Satellites in total.

Other companies on the Low Earth Orbit satellite broadband bandwagon include OneWeb and Facebook.

Very optimistic claims have been made about the impact these sorts of projects will have – so, could satellite broadband of this nature be a fixed wireless killer? That’s not likely anytime soon.

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