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.