FCC Approves Amazon’s Satellite Broadband Play

A satellite circling Earth
(Image credit: artpartner-images via Getty Images)

The FCC has paved the way for Amazon’s satellite-delivered broadband company, Project Kuiper, and its constellation of low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellites.

On the same day the House Communications Subcommittee held a hearing on satellite communications tech, the Federal Communications Commission’s International Bureau approved the orbital debris mitigation plan of Kuiper Systems as well as its license modification, which will allow the company to begin deploying birds and ultimately deliver high-speed broadband connectivity.

The FCC’s approval comes with conditions to mitigate collision risk, reliable post-orbit disposal and more.

The FCC back in July 2020 conditionally granted Kuiper's request to operate its broadband satellite system, subject to the approval of its orbital debris mitigation plans. Kuiper filed that plan as a license modification but the FCC still had some issues, now resolved.

Amazon said in December that its first two satellites — Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2 — will be launched on United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in early 2023.

The company says it has lined up 92 launches with ULA, Arianespace, and Blue Origin to deploy 3,236 satellites, the largest launch-services purchase in history, Amazon said. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.