As The Space-Based Internet Race Intensifies, Amazon Makes Its Move

Several companies have been prioritizing the provision of broadband internet across the globe via a system of satellites orbiting the Earth. Amazon is the newest member of the team, announcing its Project Kuiper on April 4, 2019.

The company plans to launch a massive network of over 3,000 satellites that will be used to ensure internet access to people who may currently be lacking broadband services.

Kuiper is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people, Amazon announced in an official statement.

This is yet another ambitious initiative conceptualized by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. Previously, the company announced that its cloud business will establish a network of satellite facilities on Earth. In addition, Amazon launched Blue Origin – a space flight company aiming to rival SpaceX.

Amazon undertook the first public steps required to initiate work on Project Kuiper earlier in 2019. The company completed three sets of document filing with the International Telecommunications Union in March.

As per the filings, the project aims to put 3,236 satellites in Earth’s orbit. Of those, 784 satellites will be orbiting at an altitude of 367 miles, 1,296 – at 397 miles and the remaining 1,155 satellites will be at a height of 391 miles.

It will take years for Project Kuiper to come to fruition. Amazon is bound to invest massively into the initiative but it is anticipated to reap billions in return once the satellites become commercially operational across the globe.

According to the UN Broadband Commission, 3.8 billion people across the globe still do not have internet connectivity. UN estimates suggest that by 2025, the broadband penetration rate will reach 75 percent of people worldwide (65 percent of the populations of developing countries).

Amazon isn’t the only competitor in the space-based internet race.

OneWeb announced the successful launch of its very first satellite for the purpose of internet provision. According to CrunchBase, the company has already raised three billion dollars from an array of investors. SpaceX is another contender known for its global satellite network ambitions.

Let’s not forget that a social media giant by the name of Facebook is also working on its satellite network. In May 2018, an IEEE Spectrum report revealed the news that Facebook had set up PointView – a subsidiary tasked with satellite development.

Eric Silver

Eric Silver

Eric Silver is a veteran technology blogger and startup enthusiast that's been covering the global technology scene since the most advanced phones were still folding in half.