Amazon revealed its ‘Project Kuiper’ plan to establish a constellation of broadband internet satellites in low-Earth orbit earlier this year, but now we know a bit more about the specifics of its plan thanks to an FCC filing first reported by Geekwire. The filing seeks permission from the U.S. communications regulator to launch a total of 3,236 communications satellites to provide the backbone of its network.
The satellite network will offer more reliable access and broadband-speed connectivity to many of the existing 3.8 billion people globally, and 21.3 million Americans that don’t currently enjoy any access to ground-based broadband, Amazon claims in the new filing. In addition to underserved consumers in rural areas, Amazon will also use the network to offer “mobile broadband connectivity services for aircraft, maritime vessels and land vehicles,” the filing also notes.
Others are attempting to serve the same need in the same way, including SpaceX, which is looking to launch a network of nearly 12,000 broadband satellites for its ‘Starlink’ network. Starlink satellites are already in orbit, including 57 once you take out the three that SpaceX lost contact with post-launch.
There’s already been considerable blow-back against SpaceX because of the impact its satellites are having on astronomers’ views of the night sky, and many in space research and industrial development are concerned about debris and crowding in the low-Earth orbit area that satellites providing broadband connectivity will operate.