We’re at the dawn of a new era of Internet connectivity.
While Starlink has launched its pilot beta testing program to interested consumers, Amazon has snagged a significant milestone in its quest to compete with SpaceX with the regulatory approval it got from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wednesday this week.
With a unanimous vote, the FCC permitted Amazon to proceed with its satellite-based internet system dubbed as Project Kuiper. It is seen by experts and analysts alike as Jeff Bezos’ answer to Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet network.
Now the processing of paperwork for the project’s commencement is on the works.
In a report on Business Insider, Amazon was quoted in its announcement declaring a pledge funding of $10 billion or more on the said initiative.
In the same report, Amazon is quoted reiterating their commitment to the project.
Starlink’s potential rival
Starlink, SpaceX’s own space-based internet system, came first in the game with the company now gearing up for its beta pilot testing program to test its frequencies. As of press time, the company’s ability to launch more than 500 satellites in orbit. It was also able to construct several user terminal and ground stations during the same period.
And now the company has an estimated valuation of more than $100 billion, with the bulk of the figure attributed to the company’s projected revenue of the Internet service’s subscription fees.
Amazon’s entry in the budding space-based Internet service stems from its growing entertainment business thus the ability to provide an in-house, low-cost, high-speed internet connection to serve a larger market base can work in synergy with the company’s future entertainment business’ expansion.
Not only that, but the company also looks forward to ‘provide backhaul solutions for wireless carriers extending LTE AND 5G services to new regions’, that is according to the same report on Business Insider.
The FCC, the federal government agency tasked to regulate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the United States, granted Amazon its permit to start its preparatory steps in launching the program.
But this comes with a series of caveats. One of these is that Amazon is required by the agency to complete launching and start the operations of 50% of its 3,236 satellite fleet by late July 2026. While the rest is expected to be complete and fully operational three years after. Failure to meet these conditions would lead to Amazon cease operations on its Internet network.
Also, the FCC reminded the company to work on the system in a way that it doesn’t disrupt current operations of other operators and other satellites operating in the same space. It stressed that the company should be fully ‘aware of these facts’ and instructed them to cooperate closely with the National Science Foundation in dealing with the said concerns.
The said satellites are expected to circle the Earth’s low-Earth orbit (LEO) or even the very low-Earth orbit (VLEO) – with distances ranging from about 590 kilometers (367 miles) to 630 kilometers (391 miles). This is 50 times closer than other conventional geostationary internet satellites which enables them to transmit data at speeds comparable to land-based fiber-optic connections.
And Amazon’s dead serious about this newest endeavor. The company plans to open a facility in Redmond, Washington that will develop, test, and build satellites for the Kuiper project.