The night sky is going to get even more cluttered – Amazon was last week granted approval by the U.S. feds to deploy more than 3,200 broadband satellites.
Like Space X’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper involves a low earth orbit (LEO) constellation of small satellites capable of providing broadband service to unserved and underserved communities – not just in the USA, but around the world. Project Kuiper will also provide backhaul solutions for wireless carriers that will extend LTE and 5G service to new regions.
Amazon will invest more than $10 billion to launch and operate the 3,236 satellites and service, and has provided assurances it will keep space “a safe, sustainable environment for everyone.”
“Together, these projects will expand broadband access to more households in the United States and around the world,” said the company in a recent blog post.
It will also create a significant number of jobs – at the time of writing, Project Kuiper had 104 positions to fill. Kuiper’s primary headquarters for research & development is in Redmond, Washington.
While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has provided its blessing more than a year after Amazon filed its application, that blessing is for the USA only. Amazon will have to get regulatory approval in Australia if it wishes to provide its broadband service here.
As we’ve previously mentioned, Australia’s Radiocommunications Act prohibits the operation of such devices within our borders even if the signal is from a source well above them, unless authorised by a relevant licence issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
SpaceX Ahead Of The Game
SpaceX took the initial steps required to operate its Starlink satellite broadband service in Australia last year. SpaceX is well ahead of the pack in preparing for its service generally and still has a target of commencing services in the Northern U.S. and Canada this year, then expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.
SpaceX has already launched more than 500 Starlink satellites into orbit since last year, and is planning to have at least 12,000 in orbit – and it and Amazon aren’t the only companies with plans for megaconstellations.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is unruffled by SpaceX’s head start, stating previously that all the proposed satellite megaconstellations combined won’t meet total demand for the broadband services they’ll deliver.