Amazon plans over 3000 'Project Kuiper' satellites to spread global broadband

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Amazon on Thursday revealed "Project Kuiper," an attempt to put thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit for worldwide internet access.

Blue Origin


In all in the goal is to launch 3,236 small satellites, bringing "low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world," a spokesperson told CNBC. It's described as a "long-term" project, and one that will require partnering with other corporations. One of these will presumably be Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' own spaceflight company, Blue Origin.

Kuiper will have to share orbit with similar networks like OneWeb and SpaceX's Starlink, the latter of which should eventually reach 4,425 satellites. Every company may have to contend with the problem of space junk -- decades of public and private satellite launches have crowded orbit trajectories.

The project will ultimately further Amazon's own interests, letting more people shop from its online store, use its devices, and access services like Alexa and Prime Video.

Companies like Google and Facebook have experiemented with suborbital internet solutions with similar self-interest. None of these have advanced beyond the prototype stage, and in fact Facebook killed off its Aquila drone project last summer.

It's unknown how Amazon might deliver on its "low-latency" promise, since by definition satellite internet involves bouncing signals over extreme distances.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    kfurykfury Posts: 14member
    It’s not unknown how Amazon can deliver on its low-latency promise. Low-altitude satellite arrays can be substantially faster than land networks because signals travel at the speed of light (signal over copper doesn’t and even fiber slows down due to frequent repeater hardware) and because the overall distance is shorter. Counterintuitive, but the 250 mile vertical round trip is much less than the inefficient path most signals take on the ground.

    Here’s an excellent video that uses Starlink to demonstrate how these clusters achieve low latency: https://www.reddit.com/r/Starlink/comments/9voaoa/simulation_of_revised_starlink_phase_1/
    78BanditcornchipSpamSandwichminicoffeestanthemanuniscapeOutdoorAppDevelopermuthuk_vanalingambigpics
  • Reply 2 of 22
    The time to bounce a signal from ground to low earth orbit (2000km) and back at the speed of light is about 13ms.  That's not terrible from a latency perspective, is it?  In theory you could build a "low-latency" solution around that.  Especially if the alternative is no access.

    Google tells me that he low-end cost of launching a satellite is $50M.  So launching 3000 would cost $150B.  And obviously there are economies of scale available (could you launch 2? 5? 10? sats with one rocket?).  It's an insane amount of money, but Apple has that much cash just lying around, so it's not impossible.

    Mind boggling stuff.
    cornchipyojimbo007uniscapebigpics
  • Reply 3 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,907member
    kfury said:
    It’s not unknown how Amazon can deliver on its low-latency promise. Low-altitude satellite arrays can be substantially faster than land networks because signals travel at the speed of light (signal over copper doesn’t and even fiber slows down due to frequent repeater hardware) and because the overall distance is shorter. Counterintuitive, but the 250 mile vertical round trip is much less than the inefficient path most signals take on the ground.

    Here’s an excellent video that uses Starlink to demonstrate how these clusters achieve low latency: https://www.reddit.com/r/Starlink/comments/9voaoa/simulation_of_revised_starlink_phase_1/
    They (SpaceX) are presumably who Google partnered with for their internet plans. 
    https://www.technology.org/2017/03/07/google-spacex-are-planning-the-biggest-space-project-ever/

    FWIW too, Bezos would be using his own rockets (Blue Origin) to deliver his own satellites. He may have the least expensive system as far as getting it off the ground  :)
    edited April 4 hexclock
  • Reply 4 of 22
    all the better to spy on you and then to 'recommend' purchaces just before you go into a shop.

    Yes, I'm being cynical but I don't trust Amazon as far as I could throw Jeff Bezos.
    cornchipStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    The linked article mentions that other competitor can (or planning to) send up 30 satellites at a time, so now you're talking "just" a 100 or so launches (costing $10s of millions of dollars a pop) rather than thousands.  It does seem feasible from a cost perspective for a company with deep pockets.  Not clear how they recoup those costs, but that's another question.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    ciacia Posts: 81member
    One thing to note about these low-latency satellite networks is that they will all be in a very low earth orbit.  People are concerned about space junk, but these satellites are so low that even if they fail, they will quickly de-orbit and fall back to earth.  They also are small enough that they will completely burn up on re-entry, posing little to no risk to people on the ground.

    The flip-side to this is since they are so low, they will need frequent replacement.
    randominternetpersoncornchipbigpicswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 274member
    The time to bounce a signal from ground to low earth orbit (2000km) and back at the speed of light is about 13ms.  That's not terrible from a latency perspective, is it?  In theory you could build a "low-latency" solution around that.  Especially if the alternative is no access.
    That 13 ms is for one IP leg. Round-trip latency between endpoints would involve a minimum of two legs (client to satellite, satellite to server, server to satellite, satellite to client). Thus the minimum round-trip latency would be 26 ms.

    It's a little better than your latency figures suggest, though. Starlink's low-altitude constellation is planned for 340 km. The high-altitude constellation is at 1200 km. Minimum IP round-trip could be as little as 1360 km (physical minimum latency of 4.6 ms) if you can both see the same satellite and there is no channel contention. If you have to go through a high-altitude relay, the minimum IP round-trip distance goes up to 4800 km (physical minimum of 16 ms), again assuming direct visibility and no channel contention.

    I would expect 100 ms or greater real-world latency. Not great, but better than latencies through current satellite networks.
    randominternetpersonbigpicswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,296member
    Let me know if/when this happens. And how it performs if/when it happens.
    racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    mf2kmf2k Posts: 11member
    This is great news! I will switch to SpaceX's Starlink or this in a heartbeat. Goodbye legacy regional monopolies, and all around terrible companies, like Comcast, CenturyLink, etc. 
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 22
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 989member
    Perhaps Apple should poach one of Bezos’ Rocket Scientists to sort out its charging mat 😂
  • Reply 11 of 22
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,675member
    Quantum entanglement baby... that's where the low-latency action is at. :)  The day we figure that out, it will be forever-changing!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22

    Oh, great. The creepy company that abuses monopolistic power, keeps unsecured personal information on their servers (including from facebook), has a poor reputation on privacy, is connected to an incredibly partisan newspaper, and has connections with the cia, is going to have an earth-wide network that has the capability to track anyone that uses it (and probably many that don't).

    What could go wrong?

    rotateleftbytecornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    kfury said:
    It’s not unknown how Amazon can deliver on its low-latency promise. Low-altitude satellite arrays can be substantially faster than land networks because signals travel at the speed of light (signal over copper doesn’t and even fiber slows down due to frequent repeater hardware) and because the overall distance is shorter. Counterintuitive, but the 250 mile vertical round trip is much less than the inefficient path most signals take on the ground.

    Here’s an excellent video that uses Starlink to demonstrate how these clusters achieve low latency: https://www.reddit.com/r/Starlink/comments/9voaoa/simulation_of_revised_starlink_phase_1/
    It's not counter-intuitive. It's due to the line resistance of Copper versus an optical link connection. Now that we much more elastic optical options replacing that old Copper with these new polymers will make the idea of these satellites an experiment in wasting money, or just a redundancy system for already heavily redundant systems.

    It's called Polymer Optical Fiber.


    randominternetperson
  • Reply 14 of 22
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,149member
    Vaporware.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,316member
    mf2k said:
    This is great news! I will switch to SpaceX's Starlink or this in a heartbeat. Goodbye legacy regional monopolies, and all around terrible companies, like Comcast, CenturyLink, etc. 
    Presumably, space-based Internet would be able to sidestep all Earthbound regulations and restrictions imposed by governments, which should be good for access in countries with such problems.
    edited April 4
  • Reply 16 of 22
    dwidwi Posts: 6member
    Gosh, it's going to get crowded up there.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,089member

    Oh, great. The creepy company that abuses monopolistic power, keeps unsecured personal information on their servers (including from facebook), has a poor reputation on privacy, is connected to an incredibly partisan newspaper, and has connections with the cia, is going to have an earth-wide network that has the capability to track anyone that uses it (and probably many that don't).

    What could go wrong?

    Amazon is responsible for AWS customers’ data now? Okay...
  • Reply 18 of 22
    Apple and Boeing seem to be up to something similar as well....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    YvLyYvLy Posts: 80member
    Fucking Amazon over my head? No thanks.
    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    mf2k said:
    This is great news! I will switch to SpaceX's Starlink or this in a heartbeat. Goodbye legacy regional monopolies, and all around terrible companies, like Comcast, CenturyLink, etc. 
    Presumably, space-based Internet would be able to sidestep all Earthbound regulations and restrictions imposed by governments, which should be good for access in countries with such problems.
    They won't be able to sidestep any laws where the groundstations are located. An angry/irritated government could just seize the groundstations and collapse a good part of the network. Until the satellite network is controlled from a space station local laws will apply. I would not put it past some nations to pass laws extending their jurisdiction as far as Alpha Centuri (if they have not done so already)

    You have to face up to the fact that there really is no escaping man made laws and therefore snooping..
    watto_cobra
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