Advanced Television

FCC approves Bezos plan for 3,236 satellites

August 3, 2020

By Chris Forrester

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved Amazon’s plan for its Project Kuiper scheme to launch 3236 satellites into orbit for a global ‘broadband by satellite’ Ka-band system.

The FCC approval is an important regulatory step for Jeff Bezos who has earmarked $10 billion for Kuiper. In previous comments Jeff Bezos has said that he could start a broadband service with as few as 578 satellites.

Reportedly, Bezos has earmarked $10 billion to finance the build-out of his system.

“There are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or where it doesn’t exist at all. Kuiper will change that. Our $10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the US that will help us close this gap,” Amazon SVP Dave Limp said in a statement following the FCC decision.

The FCC granted its approval to “Kuiper Systems LLC” and says: “Specifically, we grant Kuiper’s application for authority to deploy and operate its NGSO FSS system in the 17.7-17.8 GHz, 17.8-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.3 GHz, 19.3-19.7 GHz, 19.7-20.2 GHz, 27.5-28.6 GHz, 28.6-29.1 GHz, 29.1-29.5 GHz, and 29.5-30.0 GHz bands, and to provide MSS, in addition to FSS, in the 19.7-20.2 GHz and 29.5-30.0 GHz bands, and to use MSS feeder links in the 19.4-19.6 GHz and 29.1- 29.5 GHz bands, subject to certain conditions.”

The FCC authorisation says it recognises concerns raised by SES Americom/O3b, Telesat Canada, WorldVu/OneWeb and Iridium but dismisses their objections to Project Kuiper.

“We conclude that grant of Kuiper’s application would advance the public interest by authorizing a system designed to increase the availability of high-speed broadband service to consumers, government, and businesses,” stated the FCC.

The FCC details shows that Kuiper is allowed to launch its satellites in three different orbital heights: 590 km (784 satellites), 610 km (1296), and 630 km (1156).

According to Kuiper, the system will be deployed in five phases, and service will begin once the first 578 satellites are launched.

The FCC is firm that Kuiper’s transmissions must coordinate its beams so as not to interfere with other existing satellite operators and must show to the FCC that it has complied with this instruction.

There is an obligation on Project Kuiper to have launched and operate 50 per cent of its satellites by July 30th 2026 and have the complete constellation into orbit by July 30th 2029.

According to a note from investment bank Morgan Stanley, the prize for Bezos – and perhaps the others chasing the ‘broadband by satellite’ rainbow – could be a $100 billion revenue opportunity.

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