Going head to head with SpaceX, the e-commerce giant Amazon is planning to launch 3,236 satellites into space, in the hopes of providing “unserved and underserved” communities with low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity.
The new project, codenamed “Project Kuiper”, was picked up by the tech news outlet GeekWire in public filings. In a statement released to Business Insider, Amazon confirmed their ambitious plans to broaden high-speed internet access across the globe.
“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,” reads the statement.
“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.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX started development of its Starlink project in 2018, and the ongoing satellite constellation project aims to have 12,000 satellites in orbit by the mid-2020s.
These so-called smallsats will provide stationary users on earth with broadband internet connectivity, with underserved communities being the explicit first recipients of the project. The project will also provide a competitively-priced broadband internet service to users in urban areas.
99% of international communications are currently conducted via submarine cables, and Google recently announced that the fibre optic cable it is building across the Atlantic Ocean will be the fastest of its kind, transmitting around 250 terabits per second.
Still, half of the world’s population will still not have internet access by the end of this year, and satellite constellations may provide for this need in future, in alignment with the United Nations’ series of targets to drastically improve global internet access by 2025.