Amazon unveils Kuiper satellite terminals way ahead of service launch
- Amazon has been joining the satellite broadband service race for some time now
- Its Project Kuiper is just one of many LEO hopefuls
- The Kuiper team has unveiled its innovative customer terminal range
- But commercial satellite launches and services are some way off still
Kuiper Systems, the low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation being built by Amazon with a $10bn investment, has unveiled its range of end-user terminals (aka antennas and dishes) that customers will be able to use to receive broadband connections from the Kuiper fleet (once it is in orbit, that is).
“Project Kuiper plans to serve tens of millions of customers, so we set an ambitious goal at the start of the project: Design a customer terminal that costs less than $500 to build,” the satellite operator noted in this update on its developments.
“Project Kuiper engineers hit that milestone in 2020, inventing a new antenna architecture that was smaller and lighter than traditional designs. Since then, the team has continued to innovate to make its terminal designs even smaller, more affordable, and more capable,” it added.
The terminals come in multiple sizes and have square/rectangular receivers, with one model, pictured below (centre), looking rather like a small space-age coffee table (which is a plus point, in our book), while the smallest terminal (for lower-cost residential broadband and internet of things use cases) is even pictured next to a cup of coffee for scale (see above).
Great idea! Let’s grind some more beans…
But don’t go firing up your Prime account just yet… the Kuiper team is merely whetting the appetite of the unconnected, as Kuiper doesn’t yet have any satellites in orbit. Its first two prototype satellites will be launched soon on the first flight of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket, while mass production of the Kuiper satellites will begin later this year, followed by the launch of its first production ‘birds’ early next year.
Commercial services are expected to be on offer by the end of 2024 which, as we noted recently, puts it way behind rivals, such as Elon Musk’s Starlink and OneWeb.
- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV
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