The founder of Amazon and the space company Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, talk about the future of commercial space travel.
Brent Lewis | Denver Post | Getty Images
The world’s two richest men’s satellite internet projects remain behind the scenes of federal regulators. Amazon on Thursday clarified its position in response to recent allegations by Elon Musk and SpaceX that Jeff Bezos’ company is trying to “stifle” competition in the industry.
Representatives from Amazon spoke to officials from the Federal Communications Commission earlier this week and doubled their position that the FCC should not approve SpaceX’s change request for parts of its Starlink satellite network. Amazon and SpaceX are working to build space-based Internet networks – Kuiper and Starlink, respectively – by putting thousands of satellites into orbit, known in the industry as the Constellation.
While Amazon stressed that it “supports the ability of operators to change their system designs,” the company argued that SpaceX’s proposed changes to Starlink are too significant to be viewed as a simple change by the FCC. Rather, according to Amazon, the FCC should see Starlink as a “newly developed system” and include it in a larger round of regulatory processing that was open when SpaceX submitted the request last year.
“This would be in line with the Commission’s precedent, protect the public interest, promote coordination and encourage competition,” wrote Mariah Dodson Shuman, Amazon business advisor, in a letter to the FCC.
Amazon isn’t the only one pushing back Starlink’s change request. Satellite operators Viasat, SES and Kepler Communications also submit objections.
Sixty Starlink satellites will be launched after the company’s 17th mission.
Amazon’s concern about the modification of SpaceX centers on issues of security and interference. The company argues that the Starlink change would “significantly increase interference to Kuiper” and other satellite systems and make Starlink “more susceptible to interference from Kuiper” and others.
SpaceX director David Goldman told the FCC in January that Starlink’s modification “would be able to take advantage of lower altitudes without significantly increasing interference”. In addition, Goldman emphasized that Amazon officials “had 30 meetings to oppose SpaceX” but “no meetings to authorize their own system,” which he interpreted as an attempt to stifle competition.
While SpaceX argued that Amazon and other companies “choose data … to make misleading claims about interference,” Kuipers Shuman claimed that SpaceX “left out” comparative data from its analysis. Shuman said data shows that Starlink’s modification “increases interference in Kuiper connectivity stations.”
A Project Kuiper engineer sets up a prototype antenna for testing.
Both companies’s satellite networks are ambitious projects. SpaceX, like Amazon, claims the network will cost about $ 10 billion or more to build. SpaceX’s leadership previously estimated that Starlink could raise up to $ 30 billion per year, which is more than ten times the annual revenue of its rocket business.
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