Amazon Makes Progress in Satellite Internet Project with Team from Facebook

Amazon started Project Kuiper in 2019 to pursue its goal of providing satellite internet connectivity to the whole world. These efforts were recently furthered when Amazon hired a team of employees from Facebook to help with the project.

These Facebook employees, now Amazon Project Kuiper members, will be helping the online shopping and technology giant in developing LEO (low earth orbit) satellites with internet signal capabilities. The team was hired by Amazon for an unknown sum.

Facebook announced in 2018 that they were joining the race to improve satellite internet connectivity around the world. The goal was “to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or nonexistent.” In 2018, the social media company even pursued providing internet access to remote locations through internet drones, a project that ultimately didn’t prove fruitful.

The transfer of these satellite internet experts over to the Amazon team signals an end to Facebook’s efforts of creating its own satellite internet. Amazon has seemingly picked up Facebook’s original goal of providing internet to those around the world with little to no internet service.

They may have only entered the satellite internet game in 2019, but their plans are big and they have the means to accomplish them. Amazon hopes to launch 3,236 satellites into LEO orbit by 2029. This will cost around $10 billion.

Connecting the entire world has been a dream of many in the past couple decades, and there are finally a few who have the power to work on making it a reality. Amazon believes that their service will be available to 95% of all people in the world. With four billion people around the globe living without reliable internet right now, this could potentially change the world.

There are currently about 500 employees working on Project Kuiper looking to the 2029 goal of 3,236 satellites in space. They have already been approved to move forward by the FCC and are hoping to reach half of this goal by 2026. For nine of these launches, Amazon has partnered with United Launch Alliance, but launch dates have yet to be set.

One of Project Kuiper’s biggest competitors in this race for global satellite internet is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. With over a thousand satellites already in orbit, SpaceX is looking to increase that number to 42,000 worldwide.

This influx of new satellites with internet capabilities will also be able to provide backhaul services for 5G networks. 5G will be able to provide a more powerful mobile connection that will be able to protect individuals and organizations from network disruptions.

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has said the project is a long-term one that will cost many billions of dollars. The investment is aimed at “serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet,” Amazon leaders claimed in 2019 at the unveiling of the project. Bezos has a related but separate project called Blue Origin LLC, which is an aerospace vehicle manufacturer.

While the goal is global, the services are aimed at rural Americans as well. In its FCC filing, Amazon said it hopes to serve the US “by offering fixed broadband communications services to rural and hard-to-reach areas.”

Most current satellite internet providers use geostationary satellites that are tens of thousands of miles above the earth. But with low earth orbit satellites, for example Project Kuiper satellites that plan to orbit between 370 and 390 miles above the earth, momentum is necessary to keep them afloat. This team of thousands of satellites speeding around the earth every hour and a half or less will form a web of interconnectivity that will revolutionize the way the world connects to the internet and to each other.

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