Amazon would be taking firm steps to put its satellite internet service into operation, with which it intends to rival Starlink. The Andy Jassy-led firm revealed details about how Project Kuiper is progressing, which could go live sooner than expected.
As reported by David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of Devices and Services, the intention is to launch the first mass-produced satellites of Project Kuiper. in 2024. When this objective is met, a testing process will begin in order to begin provide access to consumers within the same year.
Undoubtedly, it is a more than ambitious roadmap. Amazon has been working on the development of its own satellite internet service for several years, but until now his advances had been overshadowed by Starlink. In addition, the frequent media darts between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk did the project no favors either.
But the promise that Project Kuiper will be up and running sometime next year did not come empty. Bloomberg reports that Limp released three prototype antennas that will be made available to users, depending on what connection speed they intend to obtain.
While designs are still subject to change, one of Amazon’s satellite internet antennas would be almost as small as a Kindle. Specifically, the aforementioned medium indicates that the device in question has a square format with a size of 7 inches and that it can offer a connection of up to 100 megabits per second.
The second antenna is also square and slightly larger—about 11 inches—and would allow speeds of up to 400Mbps. Although the most interesting model is the third; not only because it is considerably larger than the previous ones (48 x 76 centimeters, approximately), but because it would offer connectivity of up to 1 gigabit per second.
If Amazon really manages to deliver gigabit satellite internet, it would take a phenomenal leap compared to Starlink. Of course, Project Kuiper will now have the responsibility of demonstrating that it is a real possibility, and not just a promise.
Amazon’s satellite internet would arrive in 2024 and aims to put Starlink in trouble
If Amazon’s satellite internet delivers what it promises, would have everything to put Starlink in trouble. On paper, at least. There are many details that have not yet been revealed, as well as several nuances to take into account.
The first thing to note is that Amazon still has not disclosed possible prices of the plans for its satellite internet platform, nor what will be its original availability. It is also not known what price the different antenna models will have, but we can anticipate that they will not be cheap at all. David Limp said they hope to make the midsize version — the 11-inch one — for just under $400 each.
Yes, as you well read, said cost would be only for MANUFACTURE the antenna. So the price users would have to pay could be quite a bit higher, just for accessing the device. No one rules out that Amazon may have a strategy to subsidize the first units, or sell them at a loss, to give them a good initial boost. However, that today is nothing more than pure speculation.
It is also a reality that Project Kuiper’s first experimental satellites have not even been deployed yet. So the initiative still subject to potential delays which could directly affect plans to launch the service in 2024. What is certain is that, for the first time in a long time, Amazon seems to be taking big public steps to launch its response to Starlink.
Amazon aims to launch the first two experimental teams to test its satellite internet during the first half of 2023. The original idea was to do it during the first quarter of this year, but the company had to change rockets. The satellites are already in Florida and would be sent into space on May 4, aboard ULA’s Vulcan Centaurthe alliance between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Will 2024 be the year of Amazon’s satellite internet? For now, Project Kuiper has approval to place 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit. Although by 2026 only 50% of them would be deployed, with a view to the constellation being 100% operational in 2029.
Without a doubt, it will be an interesting race with SpaceX, which prepares the commissioning of the second generation Starlink satellites. A crucial leap for Elon Musk’s platform, whose global deployment is leading its users to have increasingly slow connection speeds.