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Elon Musk blasts Jeff Bezos’ Amazon for attempts to ‘hamstring’ SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk

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The two richest men on the planet are sparring in front of federal regulators over the massive satellite internet projects their companies are developing.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter on Tuesday, as his company works to convince officials of the Federal Communications Commission that it should allow SpaceX to move some of its Starlink satellites to lower altitudes than originally planned.

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has been among companies that have disputed SpaceX’s request, on the grounds that the modification would interfere with other satellites.

“It does not serve the public to hamstring Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years away from operation,” Musk said in a tweet.

Starlink is SpaceX’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with about 12,000 satellites, designed to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. With more than 1,000 satellites so far in orbit, SpaceX began a public beta program in October. Initial service is priced at $99 a month, in addition to a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit, which includes a user terminal and Wi-Fi router to connect to the satellites.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been working on its own satellite internet called Project Kuiper. The program represents Amazon’s plan to launch 3,236 internet satellites into low Earth orbit — a system that would compete with Starlink. While Amazon in December passed a critical early hardware milestone for the antennas it needs to connect to the network, it has yet to begin producing or launching its satellites.

The FCC in July authorized Amazon’s proposal for Kuiper, which the company says it will invest more than $10 billion in to build.

Musk’s comment comes after SpaceX director David Goldman spoke with FCC officials late last week, to discuss the company’s proposal to move some of the Starlink satellites to lower altitudes.

In a presentation to the FCC, Goldman highlighted that Amazon representatives have had “30 meetings to oppose SpaceX” but “no meetings to authorize its own system,” arguing that the technology giant is attempting “to stifle competition.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment regarding Musk’s tweet.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (R) gestures as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony, in Berlin, on December 1, 2020.

Britta Pedersen | AFP | Getty Images

Both companies’ satellite networks represent ambitious projects, with SpaceX, like Amazon, saying its network will cost about $10 billion or more to build.

But SpaceX leadership estimates that Starlink could bring in as much as $30 billion a year, or more than 10 times the annual revenue of its rocket business.

SpaceX earlier this month expanded its beta program to include customers in the United Kingdom and Canada. The company is looking to widely expand Starlink access internationally, with public records showing the company registered in Austria, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, France, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa and Spain.

60 Starlink satellites deploy into orbit after the company’s 17th mission.


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