Disrupted

Amazon.com goes for jugular in FCC spat with SpaceX's Musk

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures as he visits the construction site of Tesla's Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, August 13, 2021. Patrick Pleul/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) told U.S. regulators on Wednesday that Elon Musk does not believe government regulations apply to the billionaire who heads Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and SpaceX as the companies spar over rival satellite-based internet plans.

In a harshly worded filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Amazon accused Musk of ignoring a variety of government-imposed rules, including several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.

"Whether it is launching satellites with unlicensed antennas, launching rockets without approval, building an unapproved launch tower, or re-opening a factory in violation of a shelter-in-place order, the conduct of SpaceX and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks," Amazon wrote. "If the FCC regulated hypocrisy, SpaceX would be keeping the commission very busy."

Both SpaceX and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. The FCC and FAA declined to comment.

Amazon's Project Kuiper, a planned $10 billion network of over 3,000 satellites that will provide high-speed internet from space, faces stiff competition from SpaceX's Starlink network.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Musk are rivals in the private space launch business. Bezos' Blue Origin has challenged the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's decision to award a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract to SpaceX.

Amazon on Aug. 25 asked the FCC to reject a proposed SpaceX revision to its satellite configuration plans, saying it was at odds with FCC rules and left "nearly every major detail unsettled."

Last week, SpaceX accused Amazon in its own filing with the FCC of seeking to delay SpaceX's plan, saying it was "only the latest in its continuing efforts to slow down competition."

SpaceX added: "While SpaceX has proceeded to deploy more than 1,700 satellites, Amazon has yet to even attempt to address the radiofrequency interference and orbital debris issues that must be resolved before Amazon can deploy its constellation."

SpaceX suggested Amazon "as it falls behind competitors ... is more than willing to use regulatory and legal processes to create obstacles designed to delay those competitors from leaving Amazon even further behind."

Amazon's filing said "SpaceX has just one name for any private company that dares point out its flouting of laws and regulations: 'anticompetitive.'"

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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