The sky will be full of internet satellites


"In its attempt to keep pace with SpaceX and other competitors, Amazon is seeking FCC approval to put 3,236 interconnected broadband satellites into orbit.

Amazon’s prospective broadband satellite constellation, called Project Kuiper, was announced back in April, as first reported by GeekWire. Not much was known about the project, aside from the number of satellites involved and the intended orbits. Late last week, however, Amazon filed paperwork with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting approval to launch thousands of satellites into space, thereby providing a slew of new information about Project Kuiper.

In its FCC filing, Amazon claimed that 3.8 billion people around the world still don’t have reliable access to broadband internet, and that 21.3 million Americans don’t have access to fixed broadband.

“The Kuiper System will deliver satellite broadband communications services to tens of millions of unserved and underserved consumers and businesses in the United States and around the globe,” wrote Amazon in its application. The “non-geostationary satellite orbit system” will use the Ka-band frequencies, according to the company, and offer “fixed broadband communications services to rural and hard-to-reach areas.” The application also states the system will provide “high-throughput mobile broadband connectivity services for aircraft, maritime vessels and land vehicles.”"  Gizmodo


As part of Amazon's drive toward becoming the world's economy  Bezos and company are going to contest Musk's Starlink project with the goal of providing broad band internet service to the entire world.


Not by bread alone does man live.  He also needs Amazon.

The difference in function between Bezosnet (Kuiper) and Musk's Starlink is not clear to me.  The competition will be fierce.  This is always a good thing for the consumer.

The losers in all this satellite communications activity will be the present internet providers who will be cut out as unnecessary middle men.  pl

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29 Responses to The sky will be full of internet satellites

  1. Fred says:

    That will also kill cable television and probably much of the non-local stuff too. Content will also matter. It will be interesting to see what the global demand for woke tv will be versus the more traditional stuff.

  2. FoundOnWeb says:

    Another loser will be ground-based astronomy, which will have the night sky degraded. Also, we’ll have an increased chance of a “Kessler Event” where cascading collisions produce debris clouds that essentially make LEO un-usable.

  3. GeneO says:

    Fred –
    Killing cable tv just might be a good thing.

  4. The internet is already killing cable and their subscription packages. You can now pick and choose channels and subscribe for a month or so. There’s also a lot of free content. My sons have ditched cable TV and FIOS TV for what’s available over the internet. I have neither. I still rely on two antennas in the attic for free local broadcast. Even though I live in a hollow at the very edge of signal reception, free digital broadcast offers us everything we want.

  5. edding says:

    It will provide a huge additional source of market data for Amazon’s business- or, advance, as you put it ‘its drive to become part of the world’s economy’- as well as one more way to control the populations using their system by monitoring and sharing with ours and whatever other intelligence services Amazon chooses to do business with, all of the communications passing through their system.
    Splendid? Maybe. I’d offer instead that its a mixed bag with tectonic implications.

  6. Arei says:

    The Washington Post had an article 3 years ago about this and included Boeing in the list of companies also interested in launching satellites to broadcast internet. It mentioned giving more power and resources to the FAA to oversee and track satellites, though one would presume that only includes satellites launched by companies in the US. As the world develops, what organization is able and willing to maintain and track the satellites we have and deploy, what laws and jurisdictions apply to space related incidents and how do we keep the orbit clear from debris for future endeavors.
    As business in space becomes more common among many countries I hope we can keep things running smoothly and safely. It’s all fascinating and I look forward to this aspect of the future.

  7. b says:

    Satellite internet can NEVER reach the throughput of a landline or 4G/5G services.
    You should all take the time in the next cloudless night and look at the stars. Soon you will be no longer able to see a clear sky. There will be thousands of shiny objects racing through every humans view when they look up.
    I find this violent occupation of public space that is shared by all humans for the greed of a few rich Bezos and Musks abhorrent.

  8. ambrit says:

    One thing about space travel is the high speeds involved. When one ‘hits’ another piece of space hardware, the energies involved can kill you. My best analogy would be a highway collision at high speed. Considering the already crowded, or soon to be crowded nature of the optimal earth orbits, a provision for removal of these satellites, indeed, any new earth orbiting hardware should be a basic precondition for “permission” to launch such items.
    At worst, this development is a big opportunity for some clever people to start a satellite recovery and repair service. This was one of the original reasons stated for the development of the American Space Shuttle. The Shuttle may be gone, but the reason for it’s development remains. I wonder how many scientists and engineers are still available from the old Buran project? Mix them up with ‘retired’ American Space Shuttle boffins, set up shop in some small polity near the equator, and “the sky’s the limit.”
    A second potential problem with the Sky Net proposal is, how much will the ‘provider’ charge for access? I’m now on fixed income, Social Security, and have been meeting people in similar situations who are dropping “services” such as cable, iPhones, and the like due to escalating prices. Considering the past history of “Trusts” and suchlike, a strong regulatory mechanism needs to be in place from the beginning of this venture. I’ll admit that the initial ‘start up’ costs will be huge, but after the initial investment has been paid off, the rest, minus running and maintenance costs will be a giant profit. A customer base measured in the billions? That’s the stuff that large fortunes are made of.
    The competition for dominance in this field will be fierce, but, if history is any true guide, competition for lower prices, and thus larger customer bases will not be so cutthroat.
    for many reasons, we should tread warily here.

  9. turcopolier says:

    Always with the grinding negativity. Always.

  10. Walrus says:

    “At worst, this development is a big opportunity for some clever people to start a satellite recovery and repair service. ” This was foreshadowed in science fiction about 1968, although I can’t remember the name and author of the short story.

  11. Fred says:

    unlike the view from the beach of all the non-shiny ecofriendly wind power generators or the closed-to-fishing zones surrounding them.

  12. Eric Newhill says:

    That and I wonder if it is possible to commit space piracy and steal a satellite in orbit. I think the US might have done this once to the Soviets, but it might be a rumor.
    No one is going to steal a US government sat because then you’d have the US govt coming after you. However, a private satellite? Amazon doesn’t have a space force. Does the US govt’s space force act as police for private companies? Does the USMC now have to replace “shores of Tripoli” with “outer limits of the thermosphere”?

  13. rho says:

    Alexa, Jeff Bezos surely won’t cut my satellite internet if I post a pro-Trump meme somewhere, right? Right??

  14. marku52 says:

    Yup, unusable for a long, long time. Truly a risky thing to do.

  15. JohninMK says:

    I wonder how the Chinese in particular, but there are others, would react to all these satellites above their airspace intending to allow communications to/from their population that, unlike their current Internet, they potentially can’t control.
    Looks like the US acting like it owns the Earth.

  16. optimax says:

    This is the end of poetry.

  17. Lloyd D. Herod, Jr. says:

    So the despoliation of one view justifies the despoliation of another?

  18. JohnH says:

    Living under threat of the Big One, I would welcome satellite internet as the sole reliable means of communication when electricity, phone, and cable lines go down for an extended period. The only question is, how do you power the connection? Current satellite internet seems to require a lot of power. I assume that this would be a major obstacle to acceptance throughout the developing world, too.
    I hope they can find a solution.

  19. Fred says:

    A group of commercial fisherman losing their livelyhood is a-okay ’cause we only have 12 years and the tragedy of the commons was just some thing written up in England a few century’s ago. You’ll need a boat to get to most of the off-shore wind farms to see the nightly light polution and don’t worry about all those sea-birds getting whacked by these things, that’s just collateral damage of saving the Earth.

  20. Стивен says:

    Come the next Carrington Event, satellites won’t matter. I live 33 km from the Brisbane GPO in QLD. I had wonderful TV reception when it was analogue. It dropped to zero when Australia went to digital TV. I live in a hollow and digital is very much line of sight. My landline had major faults and became almost useless after rain, but the NBN (National Broadband Network) was coming soon. For five years it was coming soon! It got so bad that I cancelled the landline and used a dumb mobile (cell for the US) phone. Since I couldn’t get reliable internet access via other means, the Government paid for a satellite service to be installed. Speeds were bad and data limits were far from generous.
    Suddenly a spurt of competition from the mobile service providers meant that the mobile telephone suppliers upgraded the cell towers around me and wireless internet became an option. It is still slow, but allows me to watch Youtube, Stan and Netflix if I want. Because the Australian Government has banned Huawei 5G, it will be probably 20 years before my Huawei 5G modem is useable above 4G. Having had satellite service for several years, don’t expect it will be wonderful. It’s not!

  21. Terry says:

    Best I could find was 2000, Vasquez Orbital Salvage and Satellite Repair. Matthew Jarpe.
    Asimov. Clarke. Heinlein. The three greats.

  22. Terry says:

    Especially since the purpose is influence. We live in the age of Propaganda.

  23. Erkenntnis says:

    Don’t forget Viasat, backed by Seth Klarman.

  24. turcopolier says:

    Do your sons play the internet streaming services on a standard TV set using something like Roku?

  25. turcopolier says:

    Congratulations of the Cyrillic. You might be interested to know that Steven in Arabic is rendered as Mustapha.

  26. My younger son has FIOS internet only which is cheaper than copper phone service with all the extra fees. He streams all the TV he wants directly from the internet to his TV or his tablet while sitting on the couch. No Roku or anything like that. He paid for HBO during the Game of Thrones season then dropped it. I’m not sure what streaming service he’s paying for now (Hulu, SlingTV, YoutubeTV?), but he has more content than I can ever watch. I think he’s tried all the streaming services once he dropped the FIOS TV and phone service. He also gets a lot of free content such as pirated Caps hockey games through some guy in Russia during the season. It’s high quality with only a few seconds delay.

  27. Lloyd D. Herod, Jr. says:

    Fred, I did not say that the difficulties that may be occurring to the fisherman was okay. I suspect and hope that fishing access will be worked out. Ocean structures become rich areas for fish and other ocean life. Wrecks, some sunk for the purpose of creating habitat, and other artificial structures put in place have created areas rich in ocean life. Those windmills may ending up helping the fishermen. The threat to bird life seems to be exaggerated, at least on land. If you can find solid data saying differently I’d be interested in seeing it. Besides I like windmills. Where I live we’re getting a fair amount of them. I know they look better to me than the coal fired plant and its effluent the local utility company wanted to build.

  28. Pat,
    In addition to Kuiper and Starlink, there’s also OneWeb and Telesat doing their own broadband megaconstellations. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out, and if the financial markets will stay hot, frothy, and stupid long enough for more than one of these to make it all the way to market. I think things are different than the late 90s (when Teledesic first proposed a broadband megaconstellation that would “darken the sky with satellites”), but the question is how different. A lot depends on when this bubble that Obama and Trump have blown finally pops. If it lasts another 2-3yrs, we’ll likely see at least 2-3 of these make it to operations before the bottom falls out. But if things sour in the next year or so, there’s a non-zero chance that none of them will make it all the way to market.
    Fingers crossed.

  29. Stumpy says:

    The NSA must be very interested in a method to scarf up all these new datastreams.

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