Amazon takes on SpaceX to build satellite broadband service

Amazon plans to invest $10 billion to build the infrastructure to make and launch the satellites.

Updated - July 31, 2020 12:11 pm IST

Published - July 31, 2020 12:03 pm IST

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Amazon said it has received approval to build low earth orbit satellites to provide high-speed and low latency broadband service to under-served regions.

The US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) approved Amazon’s Project Kuiper in a 5-0 vote, allowing the technology company to deploy and operate a constellation of 3,236 inter-connected satellites to provide internet.

The broadband satellites are planned to be launched at 590, 610 and 630 kilometres from above the earth’s surface, according to a company filing.

“We appreciate the FCC's unanimous, bipartisan support on this issue, and I want to thank Chairman Pai and the rest of the Commission for taking this important first step with us. We’re off to the races,” said Dave Limp, SVP at Amazon.

Amazon plans to invest $10 billion to build the infrastructure to make and launch the satellites. The technology company said it will provide ground station service directly to its customers, and backhaul support for wireless carriers who provide LTE and 5G service to new regions.

“We are doing an incredible amount of invention to deliver fast, reliable broadband at a price that makes sense for customers,” said Rajeev Badyal, VP, Technology for Project Kuiper.

In comparison to Amazon’s plan, SpaceX is working on blanketing the earth with nearly 12,000 LEO satellites by 2027. According to SpaceX’s President Gwynne Shotwell, the project will cost the company about $10 billion.

Apart from SpaceX and Amazon, Facebook, Boeing and Luxemborg-based LeoSat are also planning to enter the LEO-based internet business.

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