Starlink is the company that often comes to mind when we think of satellite internet. Sorry, HughesNet, but Elon Musk’s SpaceX sister brand really took the wind out of your sails. However, there’s a new competitor that is getting closer to launching to take on Starlink.
Today, Amazon announced that Project Kuiper, its upcoming satellite internet service, has completed some critical testing and could launch its first operations in the first half of 2024. The company says that “after demonstrating 100 Gbps optical links between its prototype satellites, Project Kuiper will include laser links on every satellite in its constellation to form a mesh network in space.”
Sorry, everyone with a sweet mesh Wi-Fi network at home — Amazon is building one in space. Rajeev Badyal, Project Kuiper’s vice president of technology, said in a statement that the company will “be able to support these next-generation OISL capabilities on every Kuiper satellite from day one.”
“With optical inter-satellite links across our satellite constellation, Project Kuiper will effectively operate as a mesh network in space. This system is designed fully in-house to optimize for speed, cost, and reliability, and the entire architecture has worked flawlessly from the very start. These immediate results are only possible because we approached our OISL architecture as one part of a fully integrated system design, and it’s a testament to this team’s willingness to invent on behalf of customers. We’re excited to be able to support these next-generation OISL (optical inter-satellite link) capabilities on every Kuiper satellite from day one.”
Amazon originally revealed its first satellite internet dishes back in March. The first of the company’s satellite internet lineup is the standard terminal which will be capable of speeds up to 400 megabits per second and will cost less than $400. The second dish that the company is making is a smaller model that will weigh less than a pound and offer speeds up to 100 megabits per second.
The final model that Amazon is launching as part of Project Kuiper is a larger 19-inch by 3-inch model that will be targeted to enterprise, government, and telecommunications applications. The company says that the largest model will be capable of speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.
At the time, Amazon said that it planned to get its first customers online by the end of 2024, so it seems that the company might be ahead of schedule here. Regardless of when it launches next year, it seems that SpaceX and Starlink don’t have much longer until they have to deal with some competition from one of the world’s largest companies.