Markets

FCC Authorizes Amazon to Deploy Internet Satellites

For more than a year now, Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been planning to launch a broadband satellite internet service to rival the Starlink satellite constellation that SpaceX is building. This week, Amazon took a big step toward getting its project off the ground.

On Thursday, July 30, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission issued an "order and authorization" granting Amazon the right "to deploy a non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) system to provide service using certain Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) and Mobile-Satellite Service (MSS) Ka-band frequencies."  

As the FCC explained, Amazon's "Project Kuiper" satellite constellation holds the potential to "advance the public interest by [increasing] the availability of high-speed broadband service to consumers, government, and businesses."

Satellite network around Earth

Image source: Getty Images.

The decision represents a victory for Amazon, whose application had been challenged by incumbent satellite communications firms including SES, Telesat and others. Other companies with satellite communications interests, including Iridium, Intelsat, and SpaceX, filed comments on Amazon's application -- but apparently none of these information technology companies asked that it be rejected outright.

Amazon wants to launch a total of 3,236 low-latency broadband satellites into low earth orbit at altitudes ranging from 590 to 630 kilometers. The constellation will not cover the entire Earth's surface in broadband (as SpaceX plans to do), but would provide "continuous coverage" to customers between approximately 56°N and 56°S latitude, which would include "the contiguous United States, Hawaii, U.S. territories," as well as essentially all countries in the southern hemisphere, much of Canada, most of Europe, and essentially all of China and Southeast Asia as well.  

Amazon intends to launch its satellites in five "phases." The first phase will be complete, and service could begin, upon 578 satellites reaching orbit. Timeline-wise, the FCC observes that "the design of Kuiper's satellites is not completed," and it is not known when Amazon intends to begin deployment.

10 stocks we like better than Amazon
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Amazon wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

 

*Stock Advisor returns as of June 2, 2020

 

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story

AMZN IRDM

Latest Markets Videos

The Motley Fool

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

Learn More