Amazon’s Project Kuiper Expands Satellite Services

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Amazon’s Project Kuiper has entered into an agreement to offer low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite services across seven Latin American countries. This distribution deal with Vrio, the parent company of DirecTV Latin America and Sky Brasil, will see high-speed Internet services provided to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

The collaboration aims to deliver nationwide Internet connectivity to residential customers in these markets, which collectively house around 383 million people. According to World Bank estimates, approximately 200 million of these individuals currently lack Internet access. Vrio president Darío Werthein emphasized the importance of this initiative in bridging the digital divide and fostering community development throughout the region.

Despite being a newcomer in the LEO satellite sector compared to rivals like SpaceX’s Starlink and Eutelsat OneWeb, Project Kuiper has been making significant strides. This deal with Vrio follows other strategic partnerships, such as the November 2023 collaboration with NTT DoCoMo and Sky Perfect JSAT to enhance communication in Japan’s remote areas, and a September 2023 agreement with Vodafone and Vodacom to extend 4G and 5G services in Europe and Africa.

Interestingly, Project Kuiper has yet to launch any commercial satellites. The project recently completed testing its first two prototype satellites, KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, launched in October 2023. The next crucial step is the deorbiting process, essential for managing space debris. Using atmospheric drag and active propulsion, these satellites will descend to about 217 miles and burn up in the atmosphere, providing valuable data for refining deorbit procedures.

As Amazon prepares for the full-scale deployment of its commercial network, it remains on track to begin testing services with selected customers later this year. This expansion marks a significant step in Amazon’s efforts to bring global connectivity through its LEO satellite network.

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