FCC gives nod to Amazon Kuiper broadband satellite deployment

US regulatory body the Federal Communications Commission has given Amazon the go ahead to launch broadband dispensing satellites, despite some objections from rivals in the space.

Kuiper is now allowed to begin deployment of its constellation intended to rain down broadband on the US from the stars, with the FCC deeming its ‘orbital debris mitigation plan’ satisfactory.

“…we grant Kuiper’s request for approval of its updated orbital debris mitigation plan, thereby satisfying a condition of our action in 2020 conditionally granting Kuiper’s request to deploy and operate its NGSO system.   Our action will allow Kuiper to begin deployment of its constellation in order to bring high-speed broadband connectivity to customers around the world,” the FCC said in the announcement.

As well as reams of legalise and footnotes, the announcement also contained reference to an apparent objection to the order by satellite rival Space X and others that seemed to want to limit an expansion of Kuiper’s constellation, but the regulator apparently wasn’t having nay of it:  “When the Commission applied the 100 object-years condition in the SpaceX’s Gen2 Starlink Order, SpaceX had already launched thousands of satellites and had data reflecting its actual satellite failures, which was used to inform the Commission’s approach to satellite reliability monitoring for the Gen2 Starlink system.

“The Commission noted that the 100 object-years metric was new and untested, but reasoned that an incremental approach based on a clear benchmark was appropriate in the context of a planned deployment that is at a scale not previously undertaken and also untested.   As Kuiper has not started deploying or operating its constellation, we find it is not be necessary to impose such a condition at this time.”

In October last year Amazon opted to use a different rocket company for the launch of its first Project Kuiper satellites, delaying the launch, but with this legal hurdle overcome it looks set to throw up satellites to it’s heart’s content.

Amazon is just one firm in what looks like an increasingly crowded satellite comms community. It’s definitely become a theme, and no doubt we’ll hear a lot about the sector at MWC later this month – but since there are a relatively few number of people that terrestrial coverage doesn’t cover, the question remains is this a big enough business opportunity for all these firms to make a return?


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One comment

  1. Avatar Laureen R Cook 13/02/2023 @ 2:47 pm

    You are clearly not speaking about the global telecoms marketplace, with your comment stating, “there are a relatively few number of people that terrestrial coverage doesn’t cover”. According to the ITU 2.9B people or 37% of the world’s population have never used the internet. The digital divide is growing, with 96% of those still unable to connect to the internet residing in rural areas of developing countries. Projects such as Kuiper, Spacex and OneWeb are leveraging Leo Satellite technologies which will help close this gap by providing cost effective connectivity, enabling affordable life changing services such as communications for Safety, Health, Education, and Fintech to those populations that are in need of these basic services the most.

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