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Amazon’s satellite venture confirms Australian market entry plans as it asks ACMA to tweak rules

Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellite network has detailed its Australian market plans in a submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority seeking tweaks to local spectrum regulations. It is also hiring locally, seeking a Sydney-based corporate counsel and public policy manager.

Positioned as a direct competitor to the Starlink network, which is already offering services in Australia, Project Kuiper said it plans a constellation of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit that will provide “ubiquitous, high-capacity, high-speed, low latency broadband services to unserved and underserved communities around the globe, in[1]cluding in Australia.” It said it is capable of serving a variety of customers – from resi[1]dential consumers, schools and small businesses, to telecommunications operators, global enterprises, plus large-scale emergency and disaster relief efforts.

“Through Project Kuiper, Amazon hopes to introduce further choice for Australian consumers in the rapidly evolving satellite services sector, and to expand broadband access to more households and businesses,” it told ACMA.

“Project Kuiper plans to provide resilient, global connectivity for mobility use-cases i.e. aeronautical, maritime and land.”

According to recent statements, Project Kuiper intends to launch its ϐirst satellites towards the end of this year and is working with Verizon as its US partner. As at No[1]vember, Kuiper had 750 staff globally with hundreds more to be hired this year.

Meanwhile, Kuiper is advertising on LinkedIn for both a Sydney-based corporate counsel and a public policy manager. ‘ The successful legal applicant will be “embedded with the Project Kuiper team and work closely with Kuiper’s technical teams, public policy, and other stakeholders throughout Amazon as needed. You will learn the technical details of our innovative constellation, satellites, software, and ground-based infrastructure. You will regularly strategise about the best ways we can work with international regulators to benefit our customers, particularly those in unserved and underserved communities.”

The successful policy applicant will “work with engineering, business, legal, and pol[1]icy professionals to execute the licensing strategy in Australia. “

ACMA REQUEST: In its submission, Kuiper said it wants ACMA to update its business operating procedures to include aeronautical Earth stations in motion, aligning it with recent European regulations and thereby providing an interim arrangement constella[1]tion to connect to aircraft.

Amazon also joined calls with the Comms Alliance satellite services working group to argue that ACMA’s decision to set aside 600MHz for primary fixed wireless access use in cities and major towns is unnecessary. “FWA operates in the 27.5–28.1GHz band; however, the excluded band comprises 27.5–28.3GHz, which includes a guard band of 200MHz. It is Amazon’s position that a guard band, and guard space of 50km, is unnecessary.”

 Amazon added that an aeronautical-earth station in motion would be able to overfly in the entire 27.5-29.5GHz band without causing “unacceptable interference” to fixed wireless systems. Comms Alliance’s satellite group agreed, stating that the plan for a 200MHz guard band is a waste of valuable spectrum that would deny services to many Australians. “Given, the populated areas chosen by the ACMA only cover around 5% of the land mass, this is, members believe, a massive waste of service opportunity.”

ACMA has been consulting on updating its space regulatory assessment procedures for space and space receive apparatus licences to include ITU requirements agreed at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019. This includes arrangements for sup[1]porting ESIM in the 28GHz band.

The updates are a part of ACMA’s work on providing new arrangements to facilitate the replanning of the 28GHz band, as outlined in its “Future use of the 28GHz band Planning decisions and preliminary views” paper.

ACMA said it was considering an update to arrangements to include aeronautical ESIM and to expand the frequency range to align with international updates made by Europe, as requested by Amazon and the Comms Alliance group.

Grahame Lynch & Simon Dux, Commsday

Australasia Satellite Forum 2022

14 & 15 June 2022

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