Amazon’s Project Kuiper gets FCC approval for over 3,200 internet satellites

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Amazon’s internet satellite plan has gotten FCC approval. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Amazon’s internet ambitions are getting a boost this week. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission granted the tech giant approval to “deploy and operate our constellation of 3,236 satellites,” the company announced on its Day One blog.  

Amazon says that when launched the network will provide “reliable, affordable broadband service to unserved and underserved communities around the world” with the FCC authorization allowing the company to begin work on delivering “satellite-based broadband services in the United States, helping expand internet access to households and communities across the country.”

The company plans to commit $10 billion to Project Kuiper, which was first confirmed last year. Amazon says that it aims to deliver internet to “individual households” as well as to “schools, hospitals, businesses and other organizations operating in places without reliable broadband.”

To deliver the internet, Amazon will be deploying low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, an approach also being used by other companies such as SpaceX for its Starlink offering as Elon Musk’s space company similarly looks to get into the internet market. 

SpaceX’s program is expected to begin offering internet service in the northern US and Canada later this year, with the company planning on eventually launching thousands of satellites to deliver broadband. 

Amazon’s space internet program is the latest battleground between Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, with Bezos also owning Blue Origin, a rival to SpaceX that aims to take people and satellites to space. 

While the race to deliver high-speed internet from space could be a win for consumers who are already starved for reliable and affordable connections, it remains to be seen at what cost. Astronomers have already complained that the early satellite launches are already creating a problem for monitoring space from Earth, and that is before SpaceX, Amazon and others launch thousands of additional LEOs.

At a satellite conference in March, Musk said that he was “confident” that Starlink “will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries.” 

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