In a direct competition to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Amazon has won approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy and operate its constellation of 3,236 satellites to beam affordable Internet services.
The authorization allows Amazon’s ‘Project Kuiper’ to deliver satellite-based broadband services in the US, helping expand internet access to households and communities across the country, the company said in a statement.
Amazon will spend $10 billion on Project Kuiper.
The investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the US, build and scale ground networks, accelerate satellite testing and manufacturing, and deliver “an affordable customer terminal that will make fast, reliable broadband accessible to communities around the world”.
The company is opening a research facility in Redmond, Washington, where the satellites will be designed and tested.
“We have heard so many stories lately about people who are unable to do their job or complete schoolwork because they don’t have reliable internet at home,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon.
“There are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or where it doesn’t exist at all. Kuiper will change that,” he added.
Project Kuiper will deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband service to places beyond the reach of traditional fiber or wireless networks.
It will serve individual households, as well as schools, hospitals, businesses and other organizations operating in places without reliable broadband.
“We are doing an incredible amount of invention to deliver fast, reliable broadband at a price that makes sense for customers,” said Rajeev Badyal, Vice President of Technology for Project Kuiper.
In addition to providing ground station service directly to customers, Project Kuiper will also provide backhaul solutions for wireless carriers extending LTE and 5G service to new regions.
Amazon announced Project Kuiper last spring to build a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation capable of providing reliable, affordable broadband service to unserved and underserved communities around the world.
Multi-billionaire tech mogul Musk last month shared the images of the receiver that SpaceX is refining for use with its Starlink satellite broadband, which is expected to begin offering services in the northern US and Canada later this year.
Since 2019, SpaceX has launched 540 satellites in low Earth orbit for the same. The firm estimates it will need at least 800 satellites to offer a full service and the company plans to launch at least 2,200 satellites over the next five years.