Credit: ShutterstockWe realize that headline sounds like nonsense. But the truth is GeekWire discovered that Amazon plans to offer internet access to approximately 95 percent of the world's population with a constellation of 3,236 satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Amazon even confirmed its efforts to the publication. Project Kuiper is a real thing.
Amazon's desire to get into the modern space race, which is about offering internet access rather than making it to the moon, has been known for a while. TJI Research reported in September 2018 that Amazon posted two job listings that it promptly removed when they were publicized. The first was for a Space and Satellite System Software Development Engineer, the second for a Space and Satellite Product Manager – Technical.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns Blue Origin, whose "vision is a future where millions of people are living and working in space." It would make sense for Bezos' interests to cross over to Amazon, especially when it presents an opportunity to make the company even more critical to the modern web, which is exactly what Project Kuiper would do. Why settle for hosting much of the web when you can also give people access to it?
Here's what Amazon told GeekWire about Project Kuiper:
“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world. This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”
Amazon isn't the only web-based company to mull the transition to being an Internet service provider. Google offers wireless connectivity via Google Fi and broadband internet via Google Fiber. Facebook considered offering internet access via networks of drones large and, reportedly, small. Even in space Amazon faces competition from the likes of SpaceX, LeoSat, Telesat, OneWeb and who knows how many other companies.
Which makes it all the more surprising that Amazon confirmed Project Kuiper to GeekWire. Historically, the company hasn't exactly been forthcoming with the press. It often responds with a decline to comment. Now it's revealing its plans to create a constellation of thousands of satellites to offer (read: sell) internet access to tens of millions of people? It feels like a delayed April Fools' joke.