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Amazon Seeks Permission to Launch 3,236 Internet Satellites

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Amazon wants the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to give it the go-ahead to launch 3,236 satellites that would be used to establish a globe-spanning internet network. Seeking Alpha reported that Amazon expects "to offer service to tens of millions of underserved customers around the world" via the network, which the company is developing under the code-name Project Kuiper.

News of Project Kuiper broke in April, when Amazon uncharacteristically confirmed its work on the project to GeekWire. The company often declines to comment on reports concerning its plans; it seems the development of thousands of internet-providing satellites is the exception. The company had yet to seek FCC approval for the project, though, which is what Seeking Alpha reported today.

So what does this plan to offer space internet with a weird name actually involve? Amazon explained in April:

“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.”

Expanding Internet access has become something of an obsession among tech companies. Google offers fiber Internet services as well as its own cellular network, Facebook scrapped plans to offer internet access via drones in June 2018, and Amazon isn't the only company hoping to use low Earth orbit satellites to allow previously unconnected people to finally join the rest of the world online. It's a bit of a trend.

Project Kuiper could potentially bring Amazon closer to Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, should they collaborate on the satellite network. Even if the companies don't, connecting more people to the Internet could be a boon for Amazon. The company wouldn't necessarily have to convince those people to buy things from its marketplace, either, thanks to the variety of digital services it offers.

  • RealBeast
    That will be a welcome service to a lot of folks that I know living in rural areas with really poor Internet access.
    Reply
  • expert_vision
    Ellon, looks like your not the only one looking into this.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    expert_vision said:
    Ellon, looks like your not the only one looking into this.
    Yeah,I suppose space X would be the only viable way to do this.
    How much does a single traditional launch cost anyway?And how much for a space X?

    Still, over 3000...? Damn!
    Reply
  • nitrium
    Well that's not creepy at all.
    Reply
  • jsmithepa
    On one hand, great, more space junks.

    On the other hand, enough abuse from att, comcast.

    Ay am conflicted :(
    Reply
  • Ke6gwf
    Wow, such excellent reporting... /s
    Not a mention that SpaceX is already starting to launch a constellation with the same goals, really?
    And not made clear that this is a project of Jeff Bezos, as is Blue Origin. Both are his companies, they can't get closer together, but this is a way to get Amazon money directly into Blue Origin's Bank accounts lol

    It really sounds like either this author isn't familiar with the subject, or is specifically trying to avoid mentioning SpaceX, or that Blue Origin and Amazon are sister companies already working together. Kinda wierd, and very poor reporting quality.
    Reply
  • Mandark
    Nobody forces you to read ot
    Reply
  • Ke6gwf
    Mandark said:
    Nobody forces you to read ot
    The low hanging fruit is that nobody forces you to spell it properly lol

    The more intellectual fruit is that Tom's Hardware has always been a reliable source of information, and this is just shoddy work that does not do their reputation justice.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Ke6gwf said:
    And not made clear that this is a project of Jeff Bezos, as is Blue Origin.
    Huh? The article specifically says:
    Project Kuiper could potentially bring Amazon closer to Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, should they collaborate on the satellite network.

    Ke6gwf said:
    Both are his companies, they can't get closer together,
    Amazon is a publicly-traded company. Certainly, Bezos has a lot of influence over its actions, but it's not "his", nor does he have the majority of voting shares. Because of this, Bezos can't simply order Amazon to work with Blue Origin - he would need to go through a fair bidding process, or else he could be subject to civil and criminal prosecution.

    Data on the funding of Blue Origin seems less forthcoming. In that case, it's safe to say that Bezos probably owns a controlling-stake. So, it's not a stretch to say it's "his". If he has no other investors to worry about, then he could personally subsidize the project from Blue Origin's side, so that it could out-compete any rival bids on the project. He'd still have to convince the board, but that shouldn't be too hard.

    Ke6gwf said:
    It really sounds like either this author isn't familiar with the subject, or is specifically trying to avoid mentioning SpaceX, or that Blue Origin and Amazon are sister companies already working together. Kinda wierd, and very poor reporting quality.
    It really sounds like you didn't read the article, completely. Kinda weird, and very poor commenting quality.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Project Kuiper ...
    I realize they could've named it after Kuiper, the astronomer, however it immediately brings to mind the Kuiper Belt.

    Unfortunately, I expect it will more resemble an Oort cloud than the Kuiper Belt. Let's hope it's not as fertile a source of projectiles (i.e. comets) as the Oort cloud...

    From what I've heard, plans to track and manage these large constellations of micro-satellites are presently lagging the deployment plans. If space debris gets out of hand, it could ruin space for everyone.
    Reply