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Microsoft is looking to challenge Amazon in offering a service that connects satellites directly to the company’s cloud computing network, according to documents the company filed with the Federal Communications Commission last month. From a report:
The effort shows how the two largest providers of cloud infrastructure — data centers in far-flung places that can host websites and run applications with a smorgasbord of computing and storage services — regularly seek to one-up each other. That way, the companies can appear ready and willing to meet many of the needs of prospective customers. Microsoft plans to connect a Spanish imaging satellite to two ground stations — both located in Microsoft’s home state of Washington — to show that it can directly download satellite “data to the Azure Cloud for immediate processing,” the FCC documents said.
A ground station, sometimes called an earth station, is the vital link for transmitting data to and from satellites in orbit. Microsoft notably proposed to construct one of the two ground stations itself at its data center in Quincy, Wash. The FCC on Sept. 2 authorized Microsoft to perform proof-of-concept demonstrations of the service. The authorization gives Microsoft a six month license that allows for communications and imagery data downloads. The Spanish satellite, called Deimos-2, was launched into orbit in June 2014. The satellite is operated by a subsidiary of Canadian satellite imagery company UrtheCast and, for the tests, the Deimos-2 satellite will only be in range of Microsoft’s antennas for “just a few minutes.”
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