Amazon’s next goal is to establish a global coverage of satellite network services. For this reason, Rajeev Badyal, former vice president of SpaceX, is responsible for satellite technology research and development, code-named Project Kuiper, which is expected to launch 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit. Establish a high-speed communications network that spans the globe and provide Internet access to hundreds of millions of users.
Amazon did not disclose Project Kuiper’s development timeline and total investment. The idea of using satellite technology to build a global communication network is not only Amazon’s concern. At least four technology companies are promoting similar projects, including Facebook and SpaceX.
According to people familiar with the matter, Amazon has already had a long-term layout in satellite technology. Many suppliers in the aerospace technology field have already communicated with Amazon, covering areas such as rocket design and satellite operations.
Operators currently using satellite technology to provide network access services include SpeceX, Starlink and Onebank, which is invested by Softbank, mainly for remote users in emerging markets, complementing the existing communications network system. Amazon’s starting point is also the same, providing users with convenient Internet services to more users in the world who are not able to access Internet services or services.
Unlike other companies that focus on aerospace and communications networks, Amazon has a large network of services. From e-commerce to cloud services, it needs to continue to grow in number of users, from the unconnected Internet users market in remote areas. In the middle, Amazon saw a source of future profits.
Satellite communication network helps Amazon service business
Amazon’s large-scale investment in advanced technology is interesting, but it is also expected that the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns rocket technology company Blue Origin and is currently developing recyclable rockets. Amazon is a company listed on the open market. Bezos holds about 12% of its shares. Large-scale investment in R&D satellites and communication networks requires more performance to convince investors.
For Amazon, existing businesses can benefit from the development of communication networks, and Iridium has already reached a partnership to apply satellites to the AWS platform. When faced with hundreds of millions of remote users, Amazon is eager to expand into new markets. See the business value of new users better than any company. More convenient, cheap, and fast network services, for the development of e-commerce, cloud services, streaming video, games and entertainment, satellite communications network will become an important part of the Amazon network service system.
Before Amazon began to integrate satellite technology into its existing business system, AWS, the cloud services division, launched the AWS Ground Station in November 2018, which will establish 12 satellite service devices around the world to provide the transmission between terrestrial and low-Earth orbit satellites. The solution lays the foundation for the subsequent promotion of satellite networks.
Both Facebook and Google have publicly announced similar solutions to provide Internet access to users in remote areas via satellite or other high-altitude facilities. However, many projects have been postponed or put on hold in the past few years. The important reason is the investment cost. Too high, investing in such high-risk areas before seeing clear commercial benefits, even a well-funded company needs to face tremendous pressure. Whether it’s Google’s high-airball network or Facebook’s high-altitude drone network, progress is very slow. At this stage, it is closer to technical verification and testing, and there is no plan for large-scale commercial application.
Amazon stated that it wants to work with companies that share the same vision. According to industry sources, it takes at least 8-10 years to establish a global satellite communication network. At present, the cost of each satellite in the commercial aerospace field needs at least 1 million US dollars. For Amazon, the cost of establishing a satellite communication network is at least $5 billion.