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Amazon Planning to Launch Satellite Internet for Rural Communities Worldwide

Amazon is planning to finance the launch of a new global satellite internet service, powered by a fleet of more than 3,000 low Earth-orbiting satellites that will deliver high-speed internet service to rural underserved and unserved communities, opening up the possibility of millions of potential new Amazon.com customers.

Known as Project Kuiper, named after a famous Dutch-American astronomer, the project is enthusiastically backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and will require billions of dollars in investment. The proposal claims Amazon will launch 3,236 small satellites into space in about a decade, which experts claim is plenty of time for the ambitious project to either flourish, be changed, or scrapped under pressure from Wall Street.

“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,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed 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.”

Although the marketing focus of the project will be on reaching rural and unserved areas, the satellite broadband network would deliver data coverage anywhere within a range of 56 degrees north to 56 degrees south latitude, which would cover virtually every continent, except extreme South America, Antarctica, parts of far northern Russia, Alaska, and Canada. About 95 percent of the world’s population would be reached by Amazon’s satellite project. Most similar ventures promise much faster and more responsive service than traditional satellite internet service, at a much lower cost.

Kuiper

But CNBC reported the road to the next generation of satellite internet access “is littered with companies that tried, and failed, to pull off a coup in space-based internet.”

  • 2015: Facebook scrapped plants to spend up to $1 billion on satellite internet access for Africa and other under-covered continents.
  • 2002: Teledesic closed its doors after spending $9 billion on a similar low Earth-orbiting satellite project backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Amazon could have competition if any of the projects still in progress actually begin offering service.

Amazon has very deep pockets and has the financial capacity to fully fund the project, but not without likely protests from investors concerned about the cost and history of earlier flopped ventures. Additional details can be found in these three sets of filings made with the International Telecommunications Union last month by the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of the Amazon-backed venture.

Currently there are 14 comments on this Article:

  1. Bob says:

    Wait till Moffet tells Wall Street this is too expensive and recommends everyone go back to using rotary phones.

  2. Dylan says:

    This is pretty nice to see competition finally heating up in the US. While I don’t necessarily think all the satellites in space will be healthy for planet (because of space junk), I do however believe in more competition and more companies in the internet sector. I figured Amazon would eventually get into the internet business (considering how big they are and how many business there in already). But we definitely need it because right now a lot of the areas in the US lack decent competition because of laws created and monopolies by the cable companies.

  3. Paul Houle says:

    A few companies seem able to deflect criticism from people like Craig Moffett and Amazon is one of them.

    Amazon has long put a lot of money back into the business and accepted lower margins in the short term on some things to gain market share. So far they have gotten away with it.

  4. Doctor Johnson says:

    Responding to Dylan: In regards to space junk, these new satellites are designed to de-orbit and burn-up in the atmosphere, once they’ve reached their useful service life. Once that occurs, a replacement satellite will be maneuvered into it’s orbital position, without any service interruptions.

  5. Joshi says:

    Amazon’s upcoming satellite internet service is only worth it, only, if there are no data caps meaning by providing unlimited data that should come with each plan. If data caps are enforced just like Hughes and Viasat/exede, then there’s no sense in subscribing to it.

  6. Dylan says:

    I mean, if it’s a fair data cap like a terabyte or a few, then I believe that’s fine. Of course, unlimited is the best but that’s not always going to be the case with more bandwidth constricted services such as satellite. But if it’s not like current satellite providers doing like 50 gigs for extraordinary prices, then that would be great! Since it’s Amazon and considering how big they are, then it would make sense a more sensible rate is possible considering how much money they currently make. Amazon might even be able to do unlimited considering how many satellites are being launched.

  7. Bob says:

    This won’t likely be totally unlimited but I doubt there will be a crippling cap either.

    Amazon, OneWeb, Telesat, & SpaceX means what 25,000 sats providing internet access? Plus isn’t Viasat upgrading somehow for faster speeds?

    I lived in Alaska for some time and would have welcomed an alternative to GCI, speeds were decent but the cap was crippling.

  8. Joshi says:

    I would have to disagree. Even a terabyte is too small. It’s better if no data caps are enforced. There’s no sense in launching satellite internet if it can only handle limited bandwidth. There’s no point for companies like Comcast or AT&T to limit us how much we surf the web. It’s just wrong. It’s better to stick with a wired connection. Municipal broadband is always the best way to go.

  9. Bob says:

    Very few people has access to municipal broadband. Less than very few.

    FIOS has no caps. In states where cable co’s comcast and cox – compete with FIOS – they have no caps. AT&T’s gig service has no caps. Centurylink’s fiber product has no cap. Verizon’s fixed wireless has no caps. Fixed wireless providers like Starry have no caps.

    Believe me in Alaska I would have died for 1 TB of usage.

  10. Joshi says:

    Very few people has access to municipal broadband. Less than very few.

    That may change in the future as more and more cities and communities are fighting for municipal broadband. If you look at Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire more and more cities are fighting for municipal broadband. It maybe okay to have a cable TV monopoly but it’s not okay to have an internet monopoly since it should be considered a utility not a luxury.

    FIOS has no caps. In states where cable co’s comcast and cox – compete with FIOS – they have no caps

    That’s only true for Comcast since they have no cap in the northeast side of the US. That may change as they are thinking bringing data cap to the entire northeast so that they have a cap nationwide just like what Cox is doing. Cox does have cap nationwide including the northeast side (Rhode Island and Virginia) that FiOs competes with.

    AT&T’s gig service has no caps. Centurylink’s fiber product has no cap. Verizon’s fixed wireless has no caps. Fixed wireless providers like Starry have no caps.

    Yes AT&T’s gigabit speed has no cap but not worth it since it’s expensive. Centurylink’s fiber product does have a cap. It’s only their gigabit speed that has a cap and only a few people can get access to it and you’re lucky if you live in an area and you can get centurylink’s gigabit fiber speed. If you’re saying Verizon’s fixed wireless has no cap, It’s only their 5G mobile broadband that has no cap. Verizon’s mobile wireless phone service does have a cap unless you subscribe to their more expensive plans to get truly unlimited plans. And yes, Starry has no cap and would recommend them if can get them as they are thinking about moving into 5G.

  11. Bob says:

    That may change in the future as more and more cities and communities are fighting for municipal broadband

    It’s completely unrealistic to believe there will ever be anything other than an infinitesimally small number of muni broadband projects. It’ll be along the same lines as muni electric companies.

    That’s only true for Comcast since they have no cap in the northeast side of the US. That may change as they are thinking bringing data cap to the entire northeast so that they have a cap nationwide just like what Cox is doing. Cox does have cap nationwide including the northeast side (Rhode Island and Virginia) that FiOs competes with.

    Cox does not enforce caps in RI, see post 6 here http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r32159637-Cox-Data-Caps-in-Rhode-Island and that’s because they compete with FIOS there. I’m not positive about VA but its likely the same.

    yes AT&T’s gigabit speed has no cap but not worth it since it’s expensive. Centurylink’s fiber product does have a cap. It’s only their gigabit speed that has a cap and only a few people can get access to it and you’re lucky if you live in an area and you can get centurylink’s gigabit fiber speed. If you’re saying Verizon’s fixed wireless has no cap, It’s only their 5G mobile broadband that has no cap. Verizon’s mobile wireless phone service does have a cap unless you subscribe to their more expensive plans to get truly unlimited plans. And yes, Starry has no cap and would recommend them if can get them as they are thinking about moving into 5G.

    I never mentioned Verizon’s 5G mobile service regarding caps, in fact I specified Verizon fixed wireless having no cap. I never made a statement about AT&T gig service being cheap, just that it has no cap. As far as I know Centurylink ONLY offers gig for $70/month on fiber any other speed tiers are dsl. It took literally decades to install all the outside plant for telcos in the US – literally decades. Right now outside of very few areas telcos have been forced to maintain a completely separate completely redundant copper network alongside copper networks where they want to upgrade. $$. This year a handful of FIOS wired munis in MA will be changed over to fiber only.

    The FCC only recently gave telcos the flexibility to do so. A handful of stories probably financially tied to union labor have over the last two years come out against copper retirement – the same blogs who make a living telling tall tales about fiber already having been paid for by ratepayers etc. I believe some people are so disconnected from reality they believe all this can be done over night.

  12. Joshi says:

    It’s completely unrealistic to believe there will ever be anything other than an infinitesimally small number of muni broadband projects. It’ll be along the same lines as muni electric companies.

    If municipal broadband was unrealistic, nobody would have started it in the first place. Then cable tv/phone companies would be are only choice of internet providers we have which is a monopoly and no competition. They have voted to block states by enacting such laws to prevent them in building their own ISP. They spend millions of dollars to their political campaigns to fight them. They don’t want muni networks to exist which is the reason why you are not understanding. What you are are saying here does not add up. If you support the big cable companies and think muni networks should go down the drain and are against net neutrality, that’s your opinion. And if you think data caps are okay on your end, that’s fine with you but that’s not okay with me. Data caps are always unacceptable no how good they sound. If I really want internet service from a cable tv/phone provider, I can only go with the ones that are reputable companies with good customer service like Google Fiber, Yomura Fiber, RCN, Grande Communications, or Wow! Unfortunately, Comcast & AT&T does not meet the criteria of having good customer service so I would never dare move into an area or a city where anti-net neutral providers like Comcast & AT&T are the only ones providing the internet service.

    Cox does not enforce caps in RI, see post 6 here http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r32159637-Cox-Data-Caps-in-Rhode-Island and that’s because they compete with FIOS there. I’m not positive about VA but its likely the same.

    I technically do not trust forums. People who post in forums does not always provide honest or truth information. This site seems to be more accurate. https://www.cox.com/aboutus/policies/speeds-and-data-plans.html
    And yes you are right that there’s no data cap in Rhode Island or Virginia according to Cox’s website. It’s only in those states. But they have a data cap areas in where they compete with Verizon FiOS in other places in the Northeast like the state of Massachusetts and Connecticut. I was able to confirm with Cox’s customer support. Reason for this is because, it’s not because of competition with Verizon FiOS, has more to do with State policies that prevent ISPs from enforcing data caps or other practices. If you do not believe me, then you go contact Cox’s live customer support. They will tell you the same thing.

    I never mentioned Verizon’s 5G mobile service regarding caps, in fact I specified Verizon fixed wireless having no cap. I never made a statement about AT&T gig service being cheap, just that it has no cap. As far as I know Centurylink ONLY offers gig for $70/month on fiber any other speed tiers are dsl. It took literally decades to install all the outside plant for telcos in the US – literally decades. Right now outside of very few areas telcos have been forced to maintain a completely separate completely redundant copper network alongside copper networks where they want to upgrade. $$. This year a handful of FIOS wired munis in MA will be changed over to fiber only.

    I never said you mentioned about Verizon 5G. I mentioned it. I also never said about mentioned AT&T gig service being cheap. What I really was saying that it’s overpriced. As for Centurylink gigabit fiber, what I really meant to say is that it has no cap. My mistake from my previous message. If I was a lucky to live in an area I would get it as opposed to AT&T and Comcast gig service. Many telcos refuse to upgrade their copper network. Many DSL networks rely on copper. Copper network is an old and outdated. Telcos do have the money to upgrade but some refuse to do so since they do not want to use the money to improve it and instead, they put that money in their pockets and gave some of it to shareholders. Regarding FiOs, only 90 percent of the network will be changed to fiber but it will not happen overnight. They will take time. That’s because Verizon strike a deal with the Boston mayor and made commitments to replace the copper network with fiber and was done through negotiation via 6 to 10 year agreement. You can read more about it here. https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/04/12/verizon-fios-finally-coming-boston-mayor-announces-fiber-network/xv53GVErnPcGMOCokMIHiO/story.html

    The FCC only recently gave telcos the flexibility to do so. A handful of stories probably financially tied to union labor have over the last two years come out against copper retirement – the same blogs who make a living telling tall tales about fiber already having been paid for by ratepayers etc. I believe some people are so disconnected from reality they believe all this can be done over night.

    Unfortunately, since the FCC is now run by Trump, they are only giving what telcos want to hear instead of facts. Even Microsoft is accusing FCC providing misleading broadband information.The FCC run by Trump is only siding with corporate interest as opposed to public/consumer interest. Many telcos and their trade groups and unions do not give a damn about us as they were paid to lie and by refusing to upgrade their copper network. They just want money that’s all they care about. Nobody here mentioned anything about wishful dreams of upgrading copper to fiber overnight. This does not happen overnight. This takes time and can take several years for this to happen. Any site or blog you read that says this is misleading you and others. You need to get your facts straight.

  13. Bob says:

    Cox doesn’t provide service in Massachusetts and Verizon doesn’t provide service in Connecticut so now you’re just making things up.

    There’s no need for me to be in a debate with someone who just outright lies.

  14. Joshi says:

    Yes Cox does provide service in Massachussetts.
    https://broadbandnow.com/Massachusetts/Holland

    And Verizon does provide service in Connecticut.
    https://broadbandnow.com/Connecticut/Greenwich

    You need to do research before you start calling me a liar.







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