Inside money, markets, and big tech

Amazon will spend $10B to battle Elon Musk in the internet-from-space race

The FCCC just approved Project Kuiper for launch

Amazon is ready to funnel more than $10 billion into Project Kuiper, after it secured government approval to launch more than 3,000 broadband-beaming satellites into low orbit.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously (5-0) in favor of Amazon‘s bid, pitting the ecommerce giant squarely against Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the internet-from-space race.

“In addition to providing ground station service directly to customers, Project Kuiper will also provide backhaul solutions for wireless carriers extending LTE and 5G service to new regions,” said Amazon in a press release.

Amazon is yet to launch one of its own satellites

First announced in April 2019, Project Kuiper will indeed compete with similar projects in SpaceX’s Starlink and the UK-backed OneWeb, but Amazon is way behind.

SpaceX, which plans to launch 12,000 satellites in total, has so far deployed 540 (supposedly enough to start basic operations), and OneWeb 74  all while Project Kuiper’s lack of government approval has kept its satellite count to exactly zero.

The FCC docs show Amazon intends to deploy Project Kuiper in five phases, with the service first coming online once 578 satellites are in the sky.

[Read: Elon Musk’s 420th Starlink satellite is more than just a weed joke]

As noted by Business Insider, Project Kuiper must launch 50% of its planned constellation within the next six years (by July 30, 2026), and the rest within nine (July 30, 2029).

If it fails, Amazon could lose its license.

Published July 31, 2020 — 11:53 UTC