BBWN Bites: Amazon approved for 'Project Kuiper'
Also in this roundup: Zayo doubles Tennessee fiber; Eutelsat eats up Bigblu broadband satellite activities; and Ofcom calls out UK operators.
- Mere days after everyone's favorite billionaire Jeff Bezos Zoomed his way through a congressional hearing on big tech, Amazon has received a unanimous thumbs up from the FCC for its broadband satellite program dubbed "Project Kuiper." The company first requested approval in July 2019 and now has official permission to build a low-Earth orbit constellation of 3,236 satellites. In a blog post, Amazon said it will invest "more than $10 billion" in the project and that it's a win both for the economy and for those underserved by broadband: "This investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the United States, build and scale our ground network, accelerate satellite testing and manufacturing, and let us deliver an affordable customer terminal that will make fast, reliable broadband accessible to communities around the world." The FCC said Amazon has to deploy half of Kuiper's satellites by 2026 and the entire constellation by July 30, 2029.
- In more down-to-earth news, Tennessee is more fibrous than ever, according to Zayo, which said today that it's doubled its fiber footprint there over the past two years. In a statement, the company confirmed it has rolled out 340 miles of new fiber in the metro Nashville area. It further plans to build a new long haul, 100G fiber route "from Nashville north to Kentucky and up to Chicago."
- Satellite operator Eutelsat Communications announced that it will acquire all of Bigblu Broadband's European satellite activities. This includes 50,000 subscribers across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Greece. And while fixed broadband revenue was down 5.6% to €77M ($91M) in Eutelsat's full-year earnings report released today, the company projected an optimistic outlook, saying it's seen a "return to growth" in fixed broadband and that this coming year will be a "turning point" for the company's broadband strategy, owing to Eutelsat's strategic partnerships as well as the growing need for connectivity.
- UK regulator Ofcom says it is saving consumers millions of dollars after a review of operator pricing practices. In a statement, Ofcom called out broadband companies for not doing more to protect vulnerable customers, and allowing "default" prices to kick in after a discount period ends. "In September, we secured commitments from BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to reduce prices automatically for vulnerable customers who are out of contract. We have now secured commitments from EE, Plusnet and Sky to do the same," said Ofcom. "EE and Plusnet have also now joined BT, Sky and TalkTalk in deciding to give all existing customers access to new customer prices." Ofcom estimates that these pricing changes will save out-of-contract customers by over £270M ($354.8) per year. Further, it said that as a result of its review all major providers "have now offered protections for their vulnerable customers," which could save them each £70 ($92) per year.
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor, Light Reading
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
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