Amazon wants to launch thousands of satellites but doesn’t want to apply for space

US Communications Commission (FCC) in order to operate in a specific spectrum range. But Amazon is now seeking to waive the rule, a move that has been strongly opposed by companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb, claiming that it hurts competition.

Amazon has confirmed that the company plans to launch 3236 broadband Internet satellites into low-Earth orbit. This huge satellite cluster called Project Kuiper will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband to tens of millions of people around the world in the future, and will also connect them with services provided by Amazon. But Project Kuiper has not yet received FCC approval.

In an application filed in July of this year, Amazon hopes to waive FCC regulations and obtain the necessary launch permits. The problem, however, is that the FCC had passed a complex approval process a few years ago and issued spectrum licenses to nine other satellite Internet companies.

FCC records show that these companies, including SpaceX and OneWeb, are lobbying the FCC to reject Amazon’s waiver request. If lobbying is successful, this will significantly reduce Project Kuiper’s viability in the already crowded satellite Internet market.

In FCC records, SpaceX executives have met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other staff at the agency at least three times to file a face-to-face complaint about Amazon’s application. The first meeting was a few weeks after Amazon submitted the application, and the latest was on December 2nd and 3rd.

SpaceX’s lawyer wrote in a November 25 filing: “Amazon’s blatant attempt to overturn long-standing regulations will undermine confidence in the approval process, undermine competition, and reduce consumers’ broadband choices. Project Kuiper will take a look at SpaceX Caused significant adverse effects, and Amazon’s flawed analysis was counter intuitive. “

Industry experts believe that Amazon’s request is not in line with the rules, but the company’s desire to enter this coveted market through a “back door” is understandable. If Project Kuiper is forced to wait for the second round of Ka-band spectrum authorization, it may be required to operate as a “second-class citizen” on the frequency and be forced to stop transmitting when its satellite interferes with the previously established satellite Internet.

FCC officials said the agency must consider rights that SpaceX, OneWeb, and other first-round licensors have acquired. The official said: “Although we don’t think we have any reason for Amazon to follow the same procedure. After all, not all plans made by the original licensee can become a reality, and this area leaves room for other systems.”

The competition that dominates the satellite Internet sector has intensified, which has brought unprecedented challenges to the supervision of subjects entering space. In total, humans launched less than 9,000 man-made objects into space. At present, 5,400 satellites are still orbiting the earth, and only half are activated.

SpaceX, Amazon, and other companies’ large-scale satellite Internet plans will increase the number of satellites in space so much that astronomers worry that satellites will obscure the night sky. Sending a large number of satellites into low-Earth orbit will also make space debris more likely to collide and potentially cause greater damage.

Although space is large, all planned satellites have room to enter orbit. But the precious frequencies needed to transmit data are much more limited. Industry experts said that the economic benefits of satellite broadband Internet are very low and only a few early entrants can survive.

Roger Rusch, a satellite and telecommunications consultant at TelAstra, said: “I used to think that Amazon couldn’t survive just because their plans hadn’t started yet, and SpaceX and OneWeb were already launching satellites. By the time Amazon implemented the plans, , They may have been lagging behind for years. “

SpaceX has launched 180 of the 12,000 low-Earth orbit satellites. The company has obtained an FCC operating permit and has applied for another 30,000 satellites. SpaceX plans to launch another 1,440 satellites in 2020, and hopes to start providing Internet services worldwide by the end of next year.

SpaceX’s actions in the Kuiper case show that it is eager to protect its investments. SpaceX declined to comment publicly. In addition, SpaceX has many allies. OneWeb has received approval from the FCC to launch 720 satellites, and has applied for another 1,260 satellites.

FCC records show that OneWeb has filed a petition asking the FCC to reject Amazon’s application. Other companies, including Canadian Telecom, Theia Holdings, and Iridium Communications, have also participated in actions against Amazon.

OneWeb previously protested the FCC’s decision to allow SpaceX to add satellites in the current band, but Amazon’s request is much more complicated. The FCC started accepting applications for Ka-band licenses in July 2016, with a deadline of November of that year. Twelve companies filed applications, two of which later withdrew. The agency issued licenses to nine companies.

Amazon was not one of the original applicants. The company submitted the application three years later, and it also submitted a special exemption application that received the same treatment as the first batch of authorized parties. In the application, Amazon argued that the exemption was appropriate because its satellite landing plan is in the public interest, and technological advances will better enable its satellites to share frequencies that have been licensed to other companies.

For Amazon’s application, SpaceX, OneWeb and other companies believe that Project Kuiper will seriously interfere with the cautious cooperation agreement they are negotiating, just like throwing 3236 new balls of different shapes to jugglers halfway through the show, which is multiplied Added complexity.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We look forward to continuing our contact with the FCC on licensing applications. Amazon is focused on innovating for our customers, including realizing our vision of Project Kuiper, which will serve tens of millions of people around the world without web services or services People in underserved areas provide low-cost, high-speed broadband services. 

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