Internet access via satellite has become one of the main objectives of SpaceX and its Starlink project, but Amazon has long announced its intention to offer a competitor in this field with ‘Project Kuiper’, its own network of satellites to offer satellite broadband connections.
The project has now received the blessing of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the United States, which is the final starting pistol for the deployment in the coming years of 3,236 satellites that will orbit to offer those connections.
What can we expect from Project Kuiper
Amazon has not given too much specific data on the features it will offer in these broadband connections, but it is known that the deployment of these more than 3,000 satellites will take place in many different phases.
The first broadband connections will be available when the first 578 satellites are in orbit. This network will use frequencies in the Ka-band to provide “fixed broadband communication services in rural and hard-to-reach areas”, but also “high-capacity mobile broadband connectivity services for aircraft, ships and land vehicles.”
The document approved by the FCC highlights the investment of more than $ 10 billion that Amazon will make to launch a “long-term” project. The company must nonetheless have at least half the deployment in orbit if it wants to retain the FCC license and have them all deployed by 2029.
As pointed out by media, the FCC noted that Amazon has not “presented specific information regarding some elements necessary for the debris mitigation plan“, something increasingly important now that low Earth orbits could end up becoming a kind of landfill Cosmic full of space junk.
There are currently no launch dates for those satellites or information on the rockets Amazon will use to put its satellites into orbit, but Jeff Bezos is surely considering using his reusable New Glenn orbital rockets – which will debut in 2021. It will be interesting to compare SpaceX with Kuiper once both are up and running.