Amazon's Quest for Global Internet
Amazon is a massive company; I don’t have to tell you that. And — surprise, surprise — it wants to grow even bigger.
Last week, it announced that it plans to launch thousands of internet satellites to connect billions of people around the world. The company will begin putting 3,236 satellites into orbit, with high-speed internet eventually available at any point around the globe. Amazon calls its quest for global internet Project Kuiper.
ARK Invest analyst Sam Korus said, “Global internet is a huge opportunity, especially for someone like Amazon with cloud services.”
Amazon isn’t the only company with its eye on global internet. Four other companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are building and launching high-speed internet satellites.
Project Kuiper will place satellites at three different altitudes around the Earth. The first layer will consist of 784 at an altitude of 367 miles, the second layer will have 1,396 satellites at an altitude of 379 miles, and the third layer will be at 391 miles high and consist of 1,296 satellites. This probably seems like a lot of satellites, but Amazon’s numbers are far less than SpaceX’s, which received permission to launch 12,000 satellites last year.
An Amazon spokesperson said:
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.
As of right now, Amazon has no set date for when it’ll launch its satellites into space. The company does have its Blue Origin, which could assist in future launches. However, there are some hoops the company will have to jump through before liftoff.
It will need to get approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before launching anything into orbit. The FCC will determine if the satellites could cause too much congestion in the Earth’s orbit and how Amazon decommissions its satellites when they no longer have a use. Another important aspect in making Project Kuiper a reality will be Amazon's creation of Earth stations for the satellites to communicate with.
Chad Anderson, CEO of venture capital firm Space Angels, told CNBC:
We’ve known for a long time that there is a significant portion of the population that’s unconnected. Already, there’s been a lot of value in connecting these people to the global economy.
If you get everyone access to the internet then you’ve just doubled your total addressable market for e-commerce, cloud, internet, and any other business Amazon wants to do.
Though Amazon has a few things to get in order before this project officially launches, a successful Project Kuiper will not only benefit the global economy and connect people worldwide, it will create even more profit for Amazon. If you thought the company couldn’t get any bigger, you thought wrong. Project Kuiper is just another example of how Amazon plans to grow larger.
Until next time,