Amazon has received approval from the US regulator for its proposed constellation of 3,236 broadband satellites Project Kuiper. As this authorization opens the doors to space for the e-commerce giant, its management has announced that it will invest more than $ 10 billion in the initiative which will place it in head-on competition with SpaceX’s Starlink service. The move by U.S. officials marks the first major development in Amazon’s satellite broadband plans in months.
This is a major blow to SpaceX, which until then was the only player able to rapidly market satellite internet service in North America. Over the past year, Elon Musk’s company has indeed launched batches of 60 Starlink broadband satellites on the back of SpaceX rockets, at a rate of about one launch per month. While it has just under 600 Starlink satellites in orbit, it is now preparing to launch its private beta with users in North America.
Meanwhile, its potential satellite broadband competitor OneWeb has filed for bankruptcy after failing to raise additional funds and launch just 76 satellites. In July, OneWeb received a controversial $ 500 million lifeline from a consortium including India’s Bharti Global and the UK government, which could achieve its goal of launching 600 satellites into orbit around the ‘Internet.
A project launched by July 2026?
Amazon’s Kuiper Project says its broadband service can begin as soon as 578 satellites have been launched. It plans to deploy the system in five phases, with its satellites operating at altitudes of 367 miles (or 590 km), 379 miles (610 km) and 391 miles (630 km), according to the approval document issued by authorities. American. Like SpaceX, Amazon says its service will provide high-speed, low-latency services in places that traditional fiber-optic or wireless network providers have not been able to reach.
The service will include access earth stations, end-user land terminals and satellite operations centers. It will also provide backhaul solutions for wireless network operators to extend coverage of LTE and 5G services to new regions. “There are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or does not exist at all. The Kuiper Project will change that. Our $ 10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure across the United States, which will help us bridge this gap, ”said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon.
The e-commerce giant must now comply with obligations imposed by US authorities according to which Amazon must launch and operate half of its satellites by July 30, 2026, then launch the rest of the constellation by July 30 2029. It remains to be seen whether its arrival on the satellite Internet market will really be able to shake up SpaceX, which still has a particular lead in this sector.