Amazon’s satellite internet won’t need a giant antenna

Photo of a small rectangular dish standing on a table

Satellite Internet is rapidly becoming more useful with the introduction of low-orbit networks such as Starlink and Iridium, and Amazon is building its own network. Amazon has now revealed more details about how it will work.

Project Kuiper is Amazon’s developing satellite Internet network that aims to provide high-speed Internet anywhere in the world using 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit. Amazon said it will use 92 heavy-lift launches from Arianespace, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance to carry the custom-made satellites into space. Amazon says its satellites should perform better than Starlink satellites, handling up to 1 terabit/s of traffic and last about seven years in orbit before they need to be replaced.

Amazon is now showing off the ground terminals that will be used to connect to the Kuiper Network. The smallest and most affordable option would be the “ultra-compact” model pictured above, which is only seven inches wide and weighs about a pound. Despite the small size, Amazon says it will deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps, which should be fast enough for standard web browsing and some remote work.

Large flat antenna

There will also be a “standard” design, which is likely to be the most popular option for homes and regular businesses. That one is 11 inches square, weighs five pounds, and has a top speed of “up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps). Finally, there will be a “pro” model that measures 19 x 30 inches. It should reach speeds of up to 1 Gbps and is primarily intended for oil rigs, ocean liners or other similar use cases.

Amazon won’t say what the monthly maintenance cost will be, or exactly how much the antennas will cost, except that a standard terminal will cost less than $400 to produce (not for buyers). Amazon will launch the first two prototype satellites in May on the debut mission of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, and full-scale production of the satellites is expected to begin in the first half of 2024. Amazon plans to launch the service once it has several hundred satellites in orbit.

The idea of ​​fast Internet access from almost anywhere in the world is exciting, but there are still problems. Large satellite networks, such as Starlink and Project Kuiper, require a constant rate of rocket launches to replenish the satellites, as the low orbit required for fast speeds also means they have to relaunch after a few years. fall to Earth. The fuel used to launch most rockets is incredibly damaging to the environment, although work is ongoing to develop less hazardous alternatives. The Starlink satellites also made terrestrial astronomy more difficult, something SpaceX is trying to alleviate in the new satellites with design changes.

Source: CNBC, Cord Cutters News, Amazon

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