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Amazon’s Kuiper Satellite Plan Wins Backing of FCC Chair

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 7/11/2020 Todd Shields
Ajit Pai wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), listens during an interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Pai discussed security concerns surrounding Chinese network vendors, the potential merger of T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., and political advertising on social media. © Bloomberg Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), listens during an interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Pai discussed security concerns surrounding Chinese network vendors, the potential merger of T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., and political advertising on social media.

(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com’s plan for a fleet of 3,236 communications satellites won the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman, who said he had asked fellow commissioners to approve the venture.

“Satellite constellations like this aim to provide high-speed broadband service to consumers in the U.S. and around the world,” Ajit Pai said in a tweet on Friday. Pai added that he had called for conditions on the proposed service by Amazon subsidiary Kuiper Systems without specifying them.

Pai’s request is likely to result in approval in closed-door voting at the agency, where he leads a Republican majority.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wants to launch the small satellites in low orbits to provide internet coverage. Separately, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, has launched more than 480 of a planned 12,000 satellites; in October 2019, the company founded by Elon Musk sought permission for 30,000 more.

The FCC coordinates coordinates trajectories and radio-frequency use.

Amazon last year called Kuiper “a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet.”

“There are still too many communities where internet access is unreliable or prohibitively expensive” and Project Kuiper will help close that gap, Dave Limp, Amazon senior vice president for devices and services, said in an emailed message. “We appreciate that Chairman Pai shares our commitment to the issue.”

(Updates with comment from Amazon in final paragraph.)

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