Amazon Inc is collaborating with Verizon to help construct a new satellite network to compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink initiative.
The Kuiper partnership will employ Verizon to extend 4G / LTE and 5G service to remote areas, with signals potentially being sent to Verizon’s cell towers. Because of the agreement, Verizon will rely on Amazon’s expensive satellites rather than laying costly fiber lines to achieve the desired goal.
If it is successful, Jeff Bezos will compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink system while expanding rural broadband access in America for Verizon. Their long-term goals are decidedly more terrestrial and less sci-fi villainy than either Bezos or Musk.
The goal of Project Kuiper is to launch 3,200 satellites into low-Earth orbit to boost internet access in deprived areas. Kuiper, named after a belt of frozen gases beyond Neptune, was most likely viewed as an appropriate match for Verizon’s massive present infrastructure by both parties. According to the two companies, they will “explore joint connectivity solutions for domestic and global enterprises in agricultural, energy, manufacturing, education, emergency response, transportation, and other areas.”
Verizon expects to benefit from this partnership, with high hopes that its 5G and 4G services would improve without the traditional infrastructure. This could help it deliver on its long due 5G, which it was the first to offer globally but has since been overtaken by T-Mobile.
“Project Kuiper offers flexibility and unique capabilities for a LEO satellite system, and we’re excited about the prospect of adding a complementary connectivity layer to our existing partnership with Amazon,” said CEO and Chairman at Verizon Hans Vestberg. “We know the future will be built on our leading 5G network, designed for mobility, fixed wireless access, and real-time cloud computing. More importantly, we believe that the power of this technology must be accessible for all. Today’s announcement will help us explore ways to bridge that divide and accelerate the benefits and innovation of wireless connectivity, helping benefit our customers on both a global and local scale.”
However, project Kuiper will not become a reality unless Amazon launches tens of thousands of satellites in orbit. However, despite the FCC’s approval of Amazon’s request to launch about 3,200 satellites into space, not a single one is deployed. However, Amazon has said that broadband connectivity will be available once 578 satellites are sent into orbit, with the remaining LEO constellation satellites expected to launch in 2029.
Moreover, the company plans to invest $10 billion in Project Kuiper, and it has already signed a contract with United Launch Alliance for nine LEO missions. Amazon also hired several employees of Facebook’s now-defunct satellite team to help it take on SpaceX, specifically after Elon Musk made $36 billion when the company’s market valuation surged beyond $1 trillion, officially making it to the list of Big Tech companies.