Should Telecoms Fear Amazon’s Broadband Plan?

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Amazon wants to expand its services by providing satellite-delivered wireless connectivity. Amazon filed for permission from the FCC to launch more than 3,000 satellites as part of a space-based internet network.

The company hopes to connect “tens of millions” of people around the world.

 It would use Ka-band frequencies like those Iridium is using for interlinks, according to engadget. Amazon didn’t mention a timeline for sending the satellites into orbit.  

Called Project Kuiper, Amazon’s plans came to light last year. But the new filing provides more detail. Amazon’s plan for the initial network would be to provide high-speed, low-latency communication to rural areas and other underserved communities, though it could scale up operations. 

Amazon faces a crowded field. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already launching its first broadband satellites, and plans roughly three times as many — to become a general broadband provider. OneWeb launched its first six broadband satellites in February, and plans to send hundreds more into space, as does Telesat, which placed a prototype broadband satellite in low Earth orbit last year, and plans to use hundreds more as well. Facebook, Boeing and LeoSat have also laid-out plans for satellite-based internet access, according to GeekWire.

Sources tell Business Insider that tech leaders like Amazon represent a threat to wireless incumbents based on names, capital backing, and consumer recognition alone.  But communications requires a commitment to infrastructure spending and technical expertise that makes the market resistant to disruption.

Getting into the wireless market could be even more costly, given the tens of billions of dollars that network operators in the U.S. already spend to maintain, expand, and upgrade their current networks. Telecoms should monitor efforts by giants of the tech world to move into wireless, but they shouldn’t get too scared just yet, says Business Insider. Tech companies will face a major uphill climb in the wireless space, ultimately providing telecoms with lots of time to ward off potential disruptors.

July 15, 2019

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