Science & Technology

Amazon’s broadband satellite venture Kuiper teams up with Verizon to expand 5G coverage

Amazon’s formidable satellite venture, known as Kuiper, is teaming up with Verizon to additional expand 4G / LTE and 5G coverage to distant areas of the globe. Via the brand new partnership, Kuiper’s future satellites might present connectivity to future Verizon cell towers that don’t require as a lot pricey infrastructure to construct.

Kuiper is Amazon’s $10 billion initiative to launch a constellation of three,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to present broadband web coverage to the Earth beneath. With satellites flying at altitudes between 366 miles and 391 miles excessive (or 590 kilometers and 630 kilometers up), the plan is to present connectivity to distant and rural areas, the place it’s troublesome to present web coverage via conventional fiber. Throughout prototype testing, Kuiper claims its system can produce throughput speeds of up to 400Mbps.

Amazon is partnering with Verizon to use Kuiper for satellite-based mobile backhaul, permitting (in principle) for Verizon to expand entry to its 4G and 5G networks to extra rural and distant places with out having to make use of extra conventional connectivity strategies. As an alternative, Verizon would have the option to construct 4G and 5G towers in rural and hard-to-reach areas with out digging trenches to lay fiber cables — one thing that’s each troublesome and generally cost-prohibitive. By eradicating that facet, the deal might expand Verizon’s attain in areas that endure from low mobile connectivity.

“There are billions of individuals with out dependable broadband entry, and no single firm will shut the digital divide by itself,” Andy Jassy, Amazon’s CEO, stated in a press release. “Verizon is a frontrunner in wi-fi know-how and infrastructure, and we’re proud to be working collectively to discover bringing quick, dependable broadband to the purchasers and communities who want it most.” Kuiper declined to say how a lot Verizon is paying for this service.

Such a actuality remains to be fairly a methods off, although. Amazon’s Kuiper has but to launch any satellites. As part of its launch license with the Federal Communications Commission, Kuiper should launch at the least half of all of its satellites, or 1,618 spacecraft, by 2026. In April, Kuiper introduced that it had purchased nine launches of the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket to ship its first batch of satellites to orbit.

Kuiper’s a proposed competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink mission, which goals to present the identical form of coverage, besides with roughly 12,000 satellites as an alternative. Thus far, SpaceX has launched greater than 1,700 Starlink satellites into orbit round Earth and has even allowed customers to take a look at out particular person connectivity via a beta program. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated that Starlink would part out of beta in October, however there has not been an official replace on that.

Each Starlink and Kuiper depend on particular person prospects shopping for private dish antennas so as to get connectivity from the satellites orbiting above them. Final yr, Kuiper revealed the design of its 12-inch-wide dish, which is roughly half the dimensions of Starlink’s dish (although SpaceX lately requested a new license from the FCC for a smaller next-generation antenna).

Starlink and Kuiper aren’t the one firms hoping to present broadband web entry with low-flying satellites. One other firm, OneWeb, has already launched 358 satellites of a proposed 648-satellite constellation. In the meantime, one other smaller firm, Telesat, additionally plans to launch a constellation of almost 300 satellites.

Chaim Gartenberg contributed to this report.

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