Connectivity

Amazon’s Project Kuiper moves one step closer to providing satellite internet

The company will launch its first two satellites at the end of next year.
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Amazon

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On Monday, Amazon filed an experimental license request with the FAA to launch the first satellites for its long-awaited Starlink competitor Project Kuiper, following FCC approval of the project last year.

The satellites are expected to hit the skies in Q4 2022, and are the first step in Amazon’s planned $10 billion mission to provide satellite-based internet to rural areas around the world.

  • Amazon says Kuiper’s constellation will eventually number 3,236 satellites, and the company is in a race against the clock to launch half that number by mid-2026.
  • If it fails to do so, the FCC could choose to stop Kuiper in its tracks, per the conditions set in the project’s approval.

Amazon says it will also take steps to address the most contentious issues in satellite deployment, like limiting the visibility of its satellites and deorbiting them post-mission, to mitigate space junk.

For its part...SpaceX's Starlink has already launched 1,740 satellites, and recently registered its business in India, where it plans to deploy 200,000 active terminals in over 160,000 districts by December 2022.

  • Starlink was also supposed to come out of beta in October, but it suffered the fate of many an Elon Musk timeline prediction.

Zoom out: Amazon also announced last week that it’s entering a joint partnership with Verizon on Project Kuiper, focused on expanding connectivity to rural and remote areas. Verizon declined to provide detail on the project timeline or money invested in the project.

“[This partnership will allow us to] roll out rural broadband faster. Second is to help provide more reliable connectivity. When you pair satellite connectivity with the 5G network, the level of reliability is just unbelievable,” Sampath Sowmyanarayan, chief revenue officer at Verizon Business told Emerging Tech Brew.

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