Amazon is taking on Tesla billionaire Elon Musk in a battle to beam high-speed internet from space, from networks of hundreds of satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Amazon’s “Project Kuiper” will beam high-speed broadband internet services from a network of 3,236 satellites, aimed at people who can’t access high-speed internet.
Satellite internet is extremely expensive to launch, but could provide high-speed service to people in rural areas where cables and mobile phone towers have yet to reach.
Amazon has said it will launch half of its satellites by 2026, and will offer broadband services once 578 have been launched.
Amazon said in a blog post, “A project of this scale requires significant effort and resources, and, due to the nature of LEO constellations, it is not the kind of initiative that can start small. You have to commit,
Amazon will invest £7.61 billion in the project, in competition with Elon Musk’s ‘Starlink constellation, which has already launched more than 500 of its expected 12,000 satellites.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, who in February floated the idea of spinning Starlink off for an IPO in the coming years, has said the Starlink constellation will cost the company roughly $10 billion.
Space X launched a batch of 60 small satellites into low-Earth orbit in March for Musk's new Starlink internet service.
In total, 500 have been launched so far, with 12,000 planned in the long run.
Musk hopes the Starlink satellites will generate cash for his larger ambitions in space.
While extremely costly to deploy, satellite technology could also be a critical backstop when hurricanes or other natural disasters disrupts communication.
Amazon posted 110 jobs relating to “Project Kuiper”
Amazon said it would begin to offer broadband service once 578 satellites are launched.
The satellites will be designed and tested at a new research and development facility opening in Redmond, Washington.
Musk’s Starlink satellites form the initial phase of a planned constellation capable of beaming signals for high-speed internet service from space to paying customers around the globe.
Musk has said he sees the new Starlink venture as an important new revenue stream for his California-based Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.
Tech billionaire Musk said last year, “We think this is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon."