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FCC Approves Amazon's $10B Plan for Satellite Internet

The FCC has given Amazon permission to pursue its plan to tap into the nascent market of satellite broadband service. Amazon says the project will help areas where other Internet solutions have been less effective.

Amazon will move forward with Project Kuiper, a $10 billion satellite Internet endeavor, thanks to unanimous approval from the Federal Communications Commission late last week. 

Project Kuiper was first announced during spring 2019. Amazon intends to utilize more than 3,000 satellites to bring high-speed Internet to people who live in remote places around the world. The FCC authorization gives Amazon the ability to offer service to Americans through the project. 

In a statement, Amazon Senior Vice President Dave Limp said the company is aware that many U.S. citizens have difficulty meeting the demands of work and school due to poor or nonexistent Internet at home. 

“Kuiper will change that,” Limp said. “Our $10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the United States that will help us close this gap. 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.”

Amazon’s release also said that Kuiper will provide not only "high-speed, low-latency broadband service" to individuals but also “backhaul solutions for wireless carriers extending LTE and 5G service to new regions.” 

The positive news for Amazon came despite some reservations from competitors. The FCC order mentions that multiple industry stakeholders have concerns about Kuiper causing “unacceptable interference to GSO [geostationary orbit] networks,” even if Amazon “complies with the Commission’s rules.”

Amazon’s project has one high-profile competitor in Starlink, the satellite Internet project from Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX. SpaceX claims that roughly 700,000 U.S. citizens have expressed interest in its upcoming broadband service, which, similar to Kuiper, will cost $10 billion to put in place. 

BroadbandNow notes that HughesNet and Viasat are currently the two most prominent satellite Internet providers in the country.