Amazon Pressures FCC To Deny SpaceX’s Satellite Internet Plan
With 1,700 satellites currently in orbit, SpaceX’s Starlink is giving its 100,000 customers download speeds of 50Mbps to 150Mbps, or higher. Bringing its orbital fleet up to 30,000 would serve customers even more effectively, SpaceX reckons, so it’s applied to do so with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But since meddlesome competitors are one reason why consumers can’t have nice things, Amazon’s Kuiper—which aims to launch a similar network of satellites into orbit—claims that the SpaceX application violates FCC rules and has asked the agency to deny the company’s request to launch its second-generation satellites.
The crux of the matter is that SpaceX submitted not one but two configurations of satellites, requesting approval for both. Kuiper claims that doing so is unfair and flouts FCC rules:
“The SpaceX Amendment proposes two different configurations for the nearly 30,000 satellites of its Gen2 System, each of which arranges these satellites along very different orbital parameters. SpaceX’s novel approach of applying for two mutually exclusive configurations is at odds with both the Commission’s rules and public policy and we urge the Commission to dismiss this amendment.
The Commission’s rules require that SpaceX settle the details of its proposed amendment before filing its application—not after.”
But you don’t have to be all that shrewd of an observer to deduce that Kuiper’s plea that everyone plays by the same rules looks an awful lot like an attempt to halt a competitor in its tracks. This type of thing happens all the time, a former FCC official tells Reason, and the agency currently has an ambitious broadband go
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