back to article Amazon gets green-light to blow $10bn on 3,000+ internet satellites. All so Americans can shop more on Amazon

Amazon got the stamp of approval this week from America's communications watchdog to operate thousands of internet-relaying satellites into low Earth orbit. When exactly they will launch hasn’t been set. In fact, the design of the metallic birds are yet to be finalized, according to a report by the FCC. Still, Amazon hopes to …

  1. G R Goslin

    Rather a pity

    Rather a pity that The Register paper aeroplane didn't get off the ground. There might have been a future for paper satellites.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Rather a pity

      PARIS *DID*

      LOHAN, alas didn't. RIP Lester Haines and Playmonaught 1

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    Its reallly a stealth way to tackle Global Warming

    Just think -- if everyone and their dog puts up their own constellation of low Earth orbit satellites then it might get to act like a tin roof over the world, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the surface. A back door method of combating global warming, perhaps?

    1. Sanctimonious Prick
      Coat

      Re: Its reallly a stealth way to tackle Global Warming

      @martinusher

      You didn't post anonymously.

      You didn't use the helicopter icon.

      You're a brave person!

      You know, they'll find a way of getting to you for releasing that information?

      Good luck, and don't forget to pack some cheddar cheese slices!

    2. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Its reallly a stealth way to tackle Global Warming

      Why doesn’tAlok Sharma phone up Bezos and ask him if he wants in on OneWeb? In partnership with UK Govt and Bharti??

      They at least have real stuff working in orbit, if incomplete.

    3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Its reallly a stealth way to tackle Global Warming

      Hmmm. Work out the total area of the sphere surrounding the Earth at orbital height. Look up the size of the satellites and calculate the area that each satellite will occlude. Now work out how many satellites would be needed to block as much as 0.01% of sunlight.

  3. osakajin Bronze badge

    Let's hope the commission are more thorough than the FAA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm still holding out for the FCC to become as effective as the FAA...

  4. alain williams Silver badge

    Use of personal data ?

    Amazon will know who the subscribers are, will monitory which web sites they are looking at and send targeted email telling them of 'Special Offers' to keep them sending money to Amazon.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Use of personal data ?

      ISPs are often required to log what you are doing. There are tools to limit and restrict who knows how much of what but they require some paranoia, effort and technical skills to use. The same tools will work against Amazon internet pretty much as they do against any other ISP.

      There are laws against unsolicited commercial bulk email. Using an ISP supplied bundled email address will cause it to be unbundled and charged for separately as soon as it becomes a significant hassle to get your friends to update to a new address for you. The solution is the same for Amazon as it is for any other ISP - get you own domain name.

      It is possible that Amazon will one day get spanked for abuse of monopoly power. Judging from every other monopoly spanking, nothing will happen for 20 years, when something does happen it will not be a big deal and long before that people will be using cheap user friendly tools to sidestep the abuse.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Use of personal data ?

      worse, as a "Main In the Middle" they have the capability to inject HTML ads into the traffic, including your e-mails, and ALSO edit out any ads (or content, for that matter) that they do NOT want on their network (or do NOT want YOU to see...). Like with a firewall appliance, they could enforce the use of THEIR SSLcertificates via THEIR trusted authority, and so on.

      Using 'https' won't mean doodly squat if they manage to pull THAT off. Not saying they WILL, only that they COULD...

      (so to avoid FUD-ishness, I suggest that appropriate regulations may be needed to PREVENT that possibility)

      "big tech" --> "not a monopoly". Right...

      One of the things done with fuel providers here in the USA is the "divorcement" between oil wells, pipelines, refineries, and fueling stations. You can't own the entire thing from end to end, or else price fixing would/could be used to drive competitors out of the market. So what is it called if Amazon owns the "last mile" in addition to (many) other parts of the internet?

      fortunately, with server-generated keys [and plenty of warnings if they ever change], ssh isn't likely to be so easy to "Man in the Middle" successfully. So "a mitigation" exists, at least for some of this. For in theory you could use a server with sshd running "not on their network" as an ad-hoc VPN - kinda. But the vast majority of people relying on an Amazon network like this probably wouldn't have that option available. Commercial VPNs, and even TOR, could be just as "pwned" as SSL in the scenario I described.

      I wonder if, like cell towers, you could privately invest in your own satellite fleet, and just rely on 'roaming charges' to fund it. You could be a member of multiple competing networks, even. Then it's decentralized as far as ownership goes, (potentially) making it less possible to do 'tricky things' like the "Man in the Middle" HTML injection/snooping scenario. Well, it's a thought, anyway...

      Or, maybe the temptation to be your OWN "Man in the Middle" content injection/filtering ISP is too great... and others would follow THAT path.

      1. Poncey McPonceface
        Meh

        Re: Use of personal data ?

        > One of the things done with fuel providers here in the USA is the "divorcement" between oil wells, pipelines, refineries, and fueling stations.

        Kinda off-topic but kinda not as well. This is why I don't understand how Disney *and* Disney+ is a thing? Both content creation and distribution? Seems sucky for the consumer. Same goes for Amazon becoming an ISP, totally different kettle of fish to SpaceX becoming one seeing as how SpaceX knows how to put things into space cheaply and does not have a massive online retail and compute division.

        But what would I know. I second your meh face.

        Edit: this is the first time I have upvoted one of your comments. Nurse, get me my thermometer!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Use of personal data ?

          That's not a thermometer. That's a daffodil.

        2. EagleZ28

          Re: Use of personal data ?

          "Disney *and* Disney+ is a thing? Both content creation and distribution? Seems sucky for the consumer."

          It's nowhere near as bad as the UK's BBC... The government and the content creation and distribution.

          It's also like Amazon Prime and Netflix... both of which are also both creators and distributors.

          Copyright law provides some protection to the creators from anti-competitive business practices.

          "Variety is the spice of life" provides even more, since people are almost inevitably want several different distributors in order to get different creators... the shows they want to watch.

      2. cb7

        Re: Use of personal data ?

        "You can't own the entire thing from end to end, or else price fixing would/could be used to drive competitors out of the market."

        You don't need end to end control to drive competitors out of the market. Amazon's already doing that with it's global volume buying power and own distribution network.

        For an example just look at the prices of popular SSDs on independent e-tailers like ebuyer.com. They're having to price match Amazon every single day and still can't compete once delivery costs are added in.

        So despite having invested to create a much better website, the only way they'll survive is through undying customer loyalty.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Use of personal data ?

        They are no more likely to do those things as a MITM than the ISP you are currently using (which is of course also a MITM).

        1. EagleZ28

          Re: Use of personal data ?

          MITM/Man-in-the-middle -

          I think (might be wrong) that there are already laws in place in USA... and probably all of EU and Canada and Aus/NZ to prevent that kind of thing...

          Or our existing ISP's would already be doing it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    serve the public interest

    So, to stop Amazon's monopoly over competition Pai's FCC will now let Bezos become an ISP as well?

    serving the public = It's a cook book!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Serve_Man_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    1. EagleZ28

      Re: serve the public interest

      The article states that the purpose is to provide HS internet in areas that don't already have it.

      In my home area, AT&T phone lines SUCK... even by 1980's standards, never mind TODAY'S standards.

      There's also no cable TV.

      Cellular is metered... but otherwise not bad in my local area... good cell coverage...

      OTHER than satellite, the only option that I have is a radio-freq-based provider... and soon the trees are going to grow tall enough to block that weak signal, and I can't very well go around "topping" other people's trees to clear a line-of-sight. (Yes, tree leaves will block that signal.)

      Also, for more competition, isn't Google supposed to be doing something very similar?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess they way Trump is carrying on, they'd better not cross China or Russia for fear of being shot down!

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Really? I guess someone had to shoehorn in a completely irrelevant political comment. But I think we'd all prefer you hadn't bothered.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Educate me

    One would assume that orbital space is a public good, usable by any nation that can get there.

    And so, to avoid conflict, impact, landgrabbing, piracy, and the like, there is some supra national body with whom one, when wishing to launch into this space, negoiates? There are existing treaties dating back to the forties that restrict certain activities and allow others, but are they still valid and/or being observed?

    After all, just lobbing stuff up there because you can seems a somewhat risky idea... and of course, while territorial claims might be extended vertically to infinity, there is no nation that can keep an orbit over their territory at all times. While a satellite might be a very small target in a very big space, even a speck of paint coming at you at orbital velocities (say, an equatorial orbit intersecting a polar one) can ruin your whole day.

    So - can anyone tell me who this agency is?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Educate me

      It’s a space grab land grab all over again. First mover advantage,

      I hate it

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Educate me

      The limited resource is communications frequencies. If you want to provide satellite internet in the US, you must apply to the FCC for frequencies. If you want to provide satellite internet in other countries you must apply to the equivalent of the FCC in those countries. Getting those frequencies is likely to depend on various thing like:

      1) Demonstrating the ability to de-orbit satellites promptly at the end of their useful life.

      2) Not using flaky paint

      3) Deploying to a low orbit where defective satellites will re-enter the atmosphere in months.

      4) Only moving working satellites up to their operating orbit.

      5) Making an effort not to ruin every photograph taken by astronomers.

      6) Whatever else people decide is a problem

      Space is big. Really big. There are times when space is not big enough. The obvious example is when satellite operators all want to use the same orbit (geostationary) and communicate with those satellites with small dishes that receive from a wide arc across the sky. LEO constellations avoid this problem because the satellites are only hundreds of kilometres away, spread over two and a bit dimensions instead of one, the signal has less distance to spread out and the signal is weaker because at does not need to go 35000km to geostationary orbit.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Educate me

        The ITU perhaps? Sounds like their sort of issue.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Educate me

          Neither the ITU nor the FCC is dealing with the elements mentioned by the original post. Each concerns itself with telecommunications and radio frequencies, which are important, but not the original point. It's easy to turn off the radios when the satellite isn't orbiting over the right place. FCC happy, ITU happy enough, other countries' regulations not violated. Problem solved.

          The problem mentioned, however, namely whether there's any controls on who can put what above us, is not solved. Neither organization has any stated goal of keeping space usage feasible let alone caring about what someone else should be allowed to do. And every other country with a space program similarly has no restrictions. If some country decides that it is useful for them to send up millions of satellites despite clear risks, they can do so without any restrictions. This could be a problem, especially as large countries aren't well-known for caring much about what happens to people in other ones. Then again, should a better space treaty include that provision, it probably would get ignored if needed; nobody's really sticking to the "no destroying other people's stuff and keep others in mind" parts.

          1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

            Re: Educate me

            Well, the Liability Convention, "LIAB", aka The Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, covers precisely what happens if any kind of damage is done by the space assets launched by a country (regardless of who owns the vehicle).

            And, err, the Outer Space Treat reads, in part:

            ---

            The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.

            Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.

            There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall facilitate and encourage international co-operation in such investigation.

            ---

            In the USA, if you want a permit to launch something into space, you need to talk to the FAA. Who will impose restrictions consistent with the UN treaties on space.

    3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Educate me

      The United Nations. Specifically, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, COPUOS, whose operational agency is the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, UNOOSA. (see http://unoosa.org).

      All of the nations with actual or potential launch capability (including Iran and North Korea) are signatories to a treaty that refutes the idea of territorial claims in space (the "Outer Space Treaty", OST, formally "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies") and are signatories to the Registration Convention. REG, aka "Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space ".

    4. Doctor_Wibble
      Boffin

      Re: Educate me

      > and of course, while territorial claims might be extended vertically to infinity, there is no nation that can keep an orbit over their territory at all times

      I believe a certain Delos D Harriman had a splendidly cunning plan in line with the logic there though this was a landgrab slightly bigger than a bunch of orbiting toasters. That said, perhaps there is not so much difference between using the moon as one huge ad banner and launching a thousand little things to deliver thousands of little banners.

  8. Andy Non Silver badge

    Kessler effect

    Another 3,000 satellites. Sooner or later I foresee the Kessler effect happening and a disaster up there resulting in no working satellites at all and just a blizzard of bits of metal flying around; preventing the launch of any more satellites and the end of space exploration for another 50 years or however long it would take for enough of the bits to fall back to Earth.

    Just think, no GPS, very little Internet, loss of TV and telephone signals. It will be like going back to the 1950's.

    No facebook either - so maybe not a bad thing after all.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Kessler effect

      GPS birds are in a much higher orbit, so are unlikely to be effected.

      Internet mostly runs over optical cables, only occasionally over satellite at the moment (the current active birds are geostationary (so at much lower risk anyway), but this causes high latency, so isn’t popular when cabled connection is possible.

      TV and Telephone are mostly run over cable or terrestrial radio (although mobile phone base stations tend to use GPS for time synchronisation, so if GPS were effected then they would need modification).

      These birds are all in LEO, so should fall from orbit in around 5-10 years.

      Any other myths you’d like me to dispel?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Kessler effect

        Kuiper at 590-630km looks like an orbital life of 30ish years. You are probably thinking Starlink (336km) which will burn up in under a year if the thrusters stop firing (and far less time when the last of the propellant is used for a de-orbit manoeuvre). You can find the numbers here.

        If the whole Kuiper constellation crashes into each other then existing GPS (20,000km) and GEO (35,000km) satellites are completely safe (although replacing them would become more difficult). One Kuiper prang puts some fragments into an elliptical orbits. It is remotely possible that a fragment gets a huge apogee very near GEO or GPS. Life time depends strongly on perigee (600ish km) so this fluke fragment has under a century to be involved in another collision. That collision has to be near apogee (where almost all the other fragments aren't) and by amazing coincidence has to provide an impulse in the right direction to circularise the orbit. This high orbit is stable so there is a remote chance that with millions of opportunities this double fluke fragment will eventually hit something before the sun expands into a red giant.

        Gravity was set in LEO where space is only very big rather than GEO (which is absolutely huge). Orbital period is much shorter so chance of collisions happen in years rather than millennia for GEO (or 30 minutes so Sandra Bullock does not die of old age before the next collision).

        Kessler syndrome is a real danger in LEO and most nations have made an effort not to do anything really silly that would significantly increase the chances of a cascade. Elon re-negotiated his license to a lower orbit to dratically reduce the chance of a cascade. I hope Jeff does the same.

        1. Persona Silver badge

          Re: Kessler effect

          Gravity was set in LEO where space is only very big rather

          As I remember it Gravity was set in a space about the size of an airport car park with Hubble, ISS and a Chinese space station all floating along in close proximity to each other, and requiring almost no delta-v to get from one to another.

          1. xeroks

            Re: Kessler effect

            Never underestimate the size of airport car parks.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Kessler effect

        “ These birds are all in LEO, so should fall from orbit in around 5-10 years.”

        I believe these constellations are constantly replenished with new launches replacing the decayed ones.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Kessler effect

          Most LEO stuff has station keeping thrusters to stop them falling out of orbit due to natural decay (and incidentally give them a certain amount of manoeuvrability to avoid collisions). SpaceX plans to save some fuel/reaction mass to de-orbit their birds at end of life - hopefully Amazon have similar plans.

    2. osmarks

      Re: Kessler effect

      Even if we lost all satellites, only GPS and connectivity in weird exotic locations would break. Most stuff runs on the ground because it's cheaper.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Kessler effect

        Without satellites we'd lose the ability to remotely control killer drones so as to bomb foreign generals, wedding parties and other politically useful stuff.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Kessler effect

      In the animated series 'Cowboy Bebop' an accident in space resulted in chunks of the moon clogging earth orbit to the point where it's hazardous to navigate (in space) and large orbital rocks are frequently (and somewhat randomly) falling onto the earth, causing craters, damage, etc..

      A worst case sci-fi scenario, yeah, but something to avoid. Let's not have to dodge existing satellites when firing rockets into space, especially as more countries around the world get their own space programs going.

      (or will booster rockets have to use particle beams or other space-weaponry to blast obstacles out of their way in order to avoid collisions during launch?)

      Another, this time literary, reference to a book I read as a small kid: "If Everybody Did" [lampoons what would happen if everybody were to do certain things, taken to extremes in a funny-when-you-are-six kind of way]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kessler effect

        Yay! You got your caps-lock key fixed!!

    4. J27 Bronze badge

      Re: Kessler effect

      That's not likely to occur any time soon, but if it did, it would be a self-correcting problem because the debris would, within a few years, burn up on re-entry. Communications satellites are all in near-earth orbit.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Kessler effect

        Communications satellites are mostly in geosynchronous orbit.

        Assume, with their wings fully extended, that such a satellite is about 150ft across. You could hypothetically place slightly over 950,000 of them along the equator.

        Remarkably, you could place slightly under 950,000,000 of them along the orbital plane of geosynchronous orbit.

        (I.e. the circumference of geosynchronous orbit is approximately 1000 times that of earth).

        And that's only along the exact geosynchronous orbit... you could place satellites in "very near" GSO (say a few km above or below GSO), and use on-board positioning to maintain station (or near enough) for the life of the satellite. As DNA remarked, space is BIG. You may think it a long way to go down to the shops, but...

        Now, part of a launch license (in the USA) includes end-of-life planning. With geosynchronous orbits, a common plan is to raise the orbit to a supersynchronous "graveyard" orbit. But experiments have (and are) being conducted for "servicing missions", which either extend the life of the satellite or clamp on to it and move it( higher) out of the way.

    5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Kessler effect

      3000 sounds a lot. But space is BIG. Really big. And 3 dimensional. Just think of how many aircraft are flying around at far lower altitudes (= smaller area) with vanishingly few mid-air collisions. (On average there are around 10000 commercial aircraft in the sky at any given time). Nor are aircraft constrained by the laws of physics to travel in precisely predictable speeds and directions, and unlike aircraft, satellites do not need to converge at a fixed number of "hot spots" (airports) rather than being able to be spread out evenly.

  9. Julz Silver badge

    The

    Satellites are to orbit from 56N to 56S which it OK for most of the southern hemisphere but tough luck for quiet a number of folks in the northern hemisphere. Most of the Scandies, the sparsely populated bits of Canada, all of Alaska, the wastes of Russia, but most importantly, no use for the Orkneys and Shetlands.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: The poles

      SpaceX has applied to put satellites in orbits with will cover the poles - later. Amazon may have similar plans that we do not know about yet - Jeff is not anything like as much "in your face" as Elon.

      1. Fazal Majid

        Re: The poles

        https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/25/jeff-bezos-the-boy-who-wanted-to-colonise-space

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Global Internet

    While I'm sure that access to this system will be heavily restricted in some locations, it will potentially bypass local restrictions and prevent countries restricting access to sites. In some countries that may be a good thing (i.e. Turkey or Egypt) but there will be cases where a US-backed Internet companies services over-riding local regulations may be problematic.

    Google suggests running their own Atlantic fibre to connect Google data centres and ElReg commentators fear the start of a walled Internet ignoring all the evidence to the contrary. Amazon suggests a global Internet controlled by a single company and it's all OK.

    1. VicMortimer
      Childcatcher

      Re: Global Internet

      So you're sort of right, in that this would give the internet more potential to route around damage (and government censorship IS damage, whether that be China's "great firewall" or the UK's porn laws), so that's a good thing. There's absolutely nothing problematic there, not sure why you'd say that.

      No, the only problems here are the space junk mess, this is apparently going to be in addition to Elon's system that's already being launched, and that Bezos is going to get even more obscenely rich and powerful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Global Internet

        Taking the good and bad options as an example, would a hypothetical Amazon/SpaceX Internet comply with EU regulations around right to erasure still apply? I choose that as an example as it is less controversial than full censorship or porn laws and shows where governmental policy could be subverted on a more mundane issue. Similarly for GDPR although it depends on sticking with digital services rather than physical goods or services.

        And if this was controlled by Amazon? They tend to dominate their markets to the point of driving their competitors out of the market. While that will be difficult with this service, it's not impossible given existing margins in many of the markets.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Global Internet

          The ISP in use has nothing to do with complying with EU rules. The fact that Amazon/Facebook/Google etc do business in the EU is what gives the EU courts power over them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Global Internet

            Having assets in the EU is what gives the EU power. If they were not there and yet they could still provide services without the need for an EU ISP would it be as clear cut?

            Amazon/Facebook/Google are unlikely to give up their current markets but a new entrant may not have that issue.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Global Internet

              "Having assets in the EU is what gives the EU power. If they were not there and yet they could still provide services without the need for an EU ISP would it be as clear cut?"

              The only way that would work is if they offered free internet as long as you get the hardware yourself. If they sell you the hardware, they operate in the EU. If they sell service, they likewise do so. To have the ability to do things like that means they would have to have at least some assets in that area, if only a warehouse full of satellite dishes and the account that people pay into before it's routed to the main account elsewhere. The EU could cease those resources if they needed to. The companies can do only so much to have nothing there, and if they do, there's less and less benefit they get from it.

      2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Global Internet

        Vic, while Bezos is certainly not short of a few bob, have you looked to see how much of his wealth is tied up in Amazon? Because that's "paper wealth": if he announced he was selling his stake in Amazon, how much would Amazon be worth....?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I didn't know the FCC owned space. Do any other countries get a say in this?

    1. Richard Boyce

      It's not space, it's the use of the radio frquencies in the US. These transmissions are likely beamed to and from the US. This system doesn't appear to have the global ambitions of Musk's system, at least for the time being, perhaps reflecting the fact that they're a late starter.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Do any other countries get a say in this?

      as a satellite orbits across your nation's airspace, YES, you should. not sure if it'll happen though.

      1. osakajin Bronze badge

        At that altitude isn't that space space?

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Happy

          They better not fly above MY house!

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    What are the speeds you can get with satellite broadband such as what Amazon is proposing? As when I last looked at satellite internet services they offered a decent download speed but upload speed was dial up speeds meaning they are useless for stuff like Skype or posting on social media etc

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Speeds

      I have not seen numbers for Kuiper but there are many numbers for Starlink: some announcements, lots of speculation and no two remotely similar. A fairly popular number is 1Gbps for a user terminal. A fairly old number is 17Gbps for a satellite. The other important number that ISPs pretend does not exist is contention ratio. If you have bought 1Gbps the chances are that is shared with 50 other customers (20 others if you found/paid for a quality service). Very often that is fine until everyone is at home watching netflix at the same time because of corona virus.

      By all means search for numbers but look out for number of satellites, number of frequency bands, number of spots (a single antenna can send multiple beams in different directions at the same time), bandwidth per spot and how the signal connects to the rest of the internet. Starlink's plan for later is the satellites will communicate directly with each other with lasers. The existing satellites do not have lasers because the lenses could survive re-entry. Without that, the least latency connection is to bounce the data between satellites and ground stations until it reaches a ground station near the destination. Going a long way across the planet by fibre does not eat the bandwidth of multiple satellite but costs more latency because the speed of light in glass is about ⅔ the speed of light in vacuum. There is some utter sillyness from existing ISPs saying Starlink should not qualify for rural broadband subsidies because GEO satellites have 600ms latency - even though Starlink data never goes anywhere near GEO and the latency will likely be less than for fibre.

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.

    people who are unable to … complete schoolwork because they don’t have reliable internet at home

    When I was young it was the dog that ate your homework, not the internet.

    1. maffski

      Re: Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.

      'When I was young it was the dog that ate your homework'

      It's the giant mutant star goat you have to watch out for.

  14. eldakka Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Wonderful, just who I'd want running an ISP, an organisation that admitted:

    Bezos' most shaky moment came when he was forced to admit that Amazon's staff get access to all the internet souk's data behind the scenes and can use that to decide which new products to sell

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Streaky night skies?

    Astronomers are not going to be happy.

    1. Trey Pattillo

      Re: Streaky night skies?

      Yes, have you seen the picture taken of the latest

      see the effect here May 25 had 25 starlink streaks:

      https://astronomy.com/news/2020/03/nasa-needs-you-to-photograph-starlink-satellites-with-your-smartphone

      now it will be worse

      BUT remember this is the USA where science is "fake news" and

      I renamed the USA several year ago to UCCA, United Corporations and Churches of America.

      Nov 3 and Jan 20 can't get here soon enough [ throw the Orange Baffon out of "our house" and to the curb ]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Streaky night skies?

        "I renamed the USA several year ago to UCCA, United Corporations and Churches of America."

        US churches ARE corporations, so can shorten it to UCA for simplicity.

        1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

          Re: Streaky night skies?

          I'll stick with

          U$A

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ""...the risk of creating and spreading orbital debris"

    Perhaps this is orbital debris?

    Also, the disadvantaged people (no sarcasm intended) with bad Internet connection will thus solve their problem by buying expensive new satellite receiver equipment?

    Win-win.

  17. razorfishsl Silver badge

    ad so it begins...... rich farts destroying space as they destroyed the planet....

    1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

      ad

      so it begins, nice typo

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And when using their network

    you decide to go to a rival shopping site you will see...

    We think you might like to shop at amazon instead. [redirect in 5...4... 3... 2... 1... 0]

    The option to stop the redirect is a 1x1 pixel button burried somewhere on the page. Naturally, they won't tell you where.

    Amazon will have you right by the short and curlies. There won't be any escape. The will rule your world.

  19. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "finalization of its space station design"

    “It is further ordered that upon finalization of its space station design and prior to initiation of service, Kuiper must seek and obtain the Commission’s approval of a modification containing an updated description of the orbital debris mitigation plans for its system,”

    Wait, what? Space station design? Did someone let slip the Top Secret behind the cover story?

    1. Hubert Cumberdale

      Re: "finalization of its space station design"

      That's no moon...

  20. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge

    Bezos vs. Musk

    So it seems that Jeff Bezos is trying to have a pissing contest with Elon Musk to see who can launch (heh) an LEO Internet Service first. I think my money is on Elon Musk because he's already a spaceman. (But then maybe Mark Shuttleworth should do one, because he's a spaceman too!)

    Who am I rooting for? Donald Kessler, of course. I would *love* to see a cataclysmic chain reaction of satellite and debris collisions that takes all of this stuff out of service while creating a beautiful cascade of "shooting stars" every night.

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