"We have heard so many stories lately about people who are unable to do their job or complete schoolwork because they don't have reliable internet at home", said Amazon senior vice president Dave Limp.
Amazon said it would spend $10 billion to send thousands of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites into space. "Combine that with Amazon's deep expertise in networking and infrastructure and its ability to finance such a huge undertaking, and I am optimistic about the impact we can have for these unserved and underserved communities".
With this regulatory milestone secured, Amazon's posed to join SpaceX in the race to be the first multi-billionaire-dollar tech giant to gobble up the Space Internet market. Amazon's $10 billion investment is also another good reason to bet it'll be able to make this a reality - few others out there have as reliable a funding pipeline for the massive upfront infrastructure costs that come with launching a large satellite constellation.
The FCC's five commissioners unanimously voted to allow Amazon to launch the new Kuiper fleet into space to communicate with antennas based on Earth - meeting the legal requirements to lift the new SpaceX competitor to space.
Delivering high-speed, low-latency, affordable broadband service to places beyond the reach of fiber or wireless networks, however, is no small task. "Kuiper will change that", he added.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai indicated earlier this month he would support approving Kuiper, saying in a July 10 tweet that he shared a proposal with FCC staff to advance the constellation's authorization. Another important stipulation mandates that Amazon must finalise its design plans for the satellites and, more importantly, how the company plans to mitigate its contributions to the growing cosmic junkyard that is Earth's low orbit.
The application was granted provided Amazon fulfilled a number of other conditions such as not unduly interfering with previously authorised satellite ventures and providing the FCC with a finalised plan for how it will mitigate orbital debris. With about 500 satellites in orbit, SpaceX is initially limiting Starlink to users in the northern United States and lower Canada. Similarly, some of the new technologies the company will develop as part of Project Kuiper may end up being made available to customers, possibly through the new aerospace business unit.