It’s official; Amazon will be moving forward with Project Kuiper, their $10 billion satellite internet service project first announced last year. The Federal Trade Commission gave a resounding yes to the project, giving the needed authorization for Amazon to offer their service to Americans when it becomes available.
Amazon is planning to use 3,000+ low orbit satellites to bring low-latency, high-speed internet to currently unserved and underserved communities around the world. Amazon suggested that the satellites could provide data coverage for up to 95 percent of the world’s population. Although there is no estimation for how many households their new internet service will be able to support.
At this time, Amazon doesn’t have an estimated timeline for deployment of Project Kuiper’s constellation of satellites. Project Kuiper is still in its very early stages of development, so there is no launch date for the start of their new internet service or how much the service might cost. One thing we do know is the constellations of satellites Amazon plans on deploying will be in low Earth orbit and because of that are expected to be low cost.
Unfortunately it may be years before we see any of Amazon’s satellites in place. By the time their satellite network is up in the sky, they’ll face some fierce competition from SpaceX, OneWeb, HughesNet, Viasat and other satellite internet companies on the same mission; to serve the underserved.
Closing The Digital Divide With Proper High Speed Internet Access
Lack of high speed internet access in the United States and throughout the world is quickly becoming an urgent problem that needs to be addressed now. The COVID-19 pandemic really shined a light on how underserved many communities are. Issued stay at home mandates to slow the spread of the virus have made it so people can’t do their jobs and school work remotely because they don’t have reliable internet access at home and in 2020 communities shouldn’t lack basic access to broadband internet.
The Federal Communications Commission estimates that over 21 million Americans still do not have broadband connectivity in 2020. The numbers get significantly worse globally where the United Nations estimates that nearly 4 billion people around the world are underserved when it comes to internet access or don’t have access to the internet at all.
It’s time that world leaders, lawmakers, and internet providers step up to help close the digital divide. Internet providers like HughesNet and Charter Spectrum have been doing that in New York State with help from governor Cuomo’s New NY Broadband Program. The program provides funding to support projects that deliver high speed internet access to unserved and underserved areas of New York State. The speed qualifications under the program are 100 Mbps download speeds in most areas and 25 Mbps download speeds in the most remote areas. Most of the awarded money since the launch of New NY Broadband Program has been given to those aiding completely unserved areas.
The Federal Trade Commission has launched their own initiative called the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This fund is similar to the New NY Broadband Program in that it will also provide money to expand broadband in currently unserved rural areas in an effort to close the digital divide in America.