Online behemoth Amazon finally laid out a timetable Wednesday for its ambitious plan to offer internet access from space.
The company’s Project Kuiper will start producing over 3,000 satellites this year and plans to get them into low Earth orbit by the first half of 2024.
Beta testing of space-based internet access will begin the same year, Amazon said.
It’s getting crowded up there. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has thousands of satellites of its own already offering internet service.
“We’ll definitely be beta testing with commercial customers in 2024,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices, announced at a business conference.
Why would the company invest an estimated $10 billion in being a space ISP? That’s not hard to figure.
Amazon’s various businesses, from retail to healthcare, depend on internet connections.
However, many parts of the world are still without broadband access, and they’re a stretch for wired connections and cell service.
Raining down data from space is the obvious solution — and can potentially bring Amazon millions of new customers.
The trick is the terrestrial antennas for receiving the signal. SpaceX charges about $600 for its antennas. Amazon says it can produce the gear for closer to $400.
Its smallest antenna will cost even less, although Amazon has yet to reveal a price.
This is a risky venture, to be sure. But you can also see why visionary companies such as SpaceX and Amazon would be keen to be at the forefront of the next iteration of internet service.
And if the economics pencil out, Amazon will be positioned as the potential world leader not just for online sales but also online pharmacy service and telehealth medical consultations.
Oh, and it will be a huge internet service provider.
That’s a pretty high-flying business plan.