The world is an exciting place these days when it comes to technical innovation. It’s innovation that usually only benefits those who have access to a decent internet connection. Take cloud services and things like Netflix or Google’s planned gaming service as examples of remarkable improvements in technology that can really change the world we live in, but require the sort of infrastructure that few have access to. In fact, according to the UN, as much as half the world doesn’t have sufficient access to the internet.
This is something which cloud giant Amazon is acutely aware of, which is why they are planning to solve this problem globally, through the launch of over 3000 low flying satellites with the aim of providing low latency access to the billions of people that need it. The ambitious project, which was first spotted by GeekWire, goes by the codename of Project Kuiper and will reportedly see as many as 3236 satellites launched into orbit around the earth, specifically aimed at places that do not have sufficient internet coverage.
The project will cost Amazon many billions of dollars over the next 5-10 years to put all these satellites into place and effectively see the company compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is also targeting a similar satellite network. The company believes will make a massive difference in people’s ability to access the internet in a meaningful way that keeps them on par with the majority of developed nations. As they shared with Business Insider:
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.
Amazon has not quite indicated how this whole network is going to work, when they are planning to start launching satellites, which locations they are planning to place satellites or even how exactly people are going to then access these services. While it sounds like a noble idea form Amazon, there is no doubt that there will be some monetization involved for them, even if it’s just the opportunity to lure more people into using their various platforms and services. While the company can no doubt probably afford to roll this out at little to no cost for people, they will be looking to also capitalise on various government incentives and use other companies to help fund this expensive project and make it a reality.
Personally, I am all for greater access to the internet for all and think this an ingenious solution. What I would prefer to see though is some form of international regulation in how it works because having these satellites all over will no doubt just give Amazon access to even more data and we all know how these big tech companies love to (mis)manage the stuff.
Last Updated: April 10, 2019