Amazon’s Satellite Internet Service Starts to Take Shape With Antenna Prototype-news

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(Credit: Amazon)

SpaceX isn’t the only company working on a next-generation satellite internet service. On Wednesday, Amazon gave an update on its own system: Project Kuiper. 

The e-commerce company is still a ways behind SpaceX’s own Starlink program, which is already serving beta customers in the northern US. However, Project Kuiper could make things more competitive. 

In a blog post, Amazon explained its approach to developing the antenna terminal that Project Kuiper customers will one day install at their homes to receive high-speed internet. The company has consolidated the hardware into a prototype that measures 12 inches in diameter, “making it three times smaller and proportionately lighter than legacy antenna designs,” it said. 

(Credit: Amazon)

But perhaps more importantly, the prototype antenna is simple to mass produce. “The reduction in size and complexity will allow Amazon to reduce production costs, contributing to the team’s goal of providing customers a terminal that is affordable and easy to install,” the company said in a separate blog post. 

The other important factor is speed. “Our prototype is already delivering speeds up to 400Mbps (Megabits per second), and performance will continue to improve in future iterations,” the company added. 

An Amazon engineer working on the prototype

(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon also recently tested the prototype in different environments, and found it was capable of streaming 4K content from a geostationary satellite in orbit that’s 50 times further away than where Project Kuiper satellites are slated to be deployed.

The company refrained from saying how much the equipment would cost future customers. SpaceX has been charging beta users a $499 one-time fee for the necessary equipment, which includes a 23-inch satellite dish. The service is currently capable of download speeds at 150Mbps or higher, but SpaceX’s goal is to eventually upgrade the network to 1Gbps as the company launches more satellites into orbit.

The other big difference is how Starlink has already begun rolling out to actual customers in the ongoing beta. Project Kuiper, on the other hand, has only secured approval from the FCC to send 3,236 satellites into low orbit; none of them have gone up. Nevertheless, Amazon plans on investing more than $10 billion into the satellite internet system.

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