Updated: Apr 11, 2019
Amazon is in the early stages of launching 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide internet access to millions of people worldwide. The supposed ‘Project Kuiper’ came to light last week when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filed paperwork on Amazon’s behalf with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), who will have to sign off on the operation.
Amazon is not the first company to tackle the challenge of full internet access across the globe. Competition is fierce from SpaceX with the Starlink constellation, OneWeb, whose investors have committed over $3 billion to fund their satellite system, and Facebook looking to launch their own. Amazon aims to provide internet access to 95% of the world’s population.
There is no time frame for when the project will begin, but it will need approval from the FCC first. Orbital debris has become of larger concern as congestion increases in the space around the planet.
“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world. This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.” – Amazon representative
Jeff Bezos has been in the space industry for decades, since the founding of Blue Origin in 2000. The aerospace manufacturer is developing technologies to provide private human access to space at lower costs and greater reliability.
It was announced that Blue Origin will provide Telesat, the satellite communications company, with their New Glen rocket to launch Telesat's LEO constellation into space. The multi-launch agreement is supposed to provide fiber-like broadband services anywhere on Earth.
Amazon following suit with their own fleet of global internet providing satellites may launch sooner than we expect.
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