September 5, 2023
Vodafone has partnered with Project Kuiper, Amazon’s low Earth orbit satellite (LEO) communications initiative, to expand the reach of its 4G/5G satellite connectivity to remote areas throughout Africa and Europe.
Under the collaboration, Amazon’s high-bandwidth, low-latency satellites will be used to connect remote, mobile base stations to core networks, avoiding the time and expense of building fiber-based or fixed wireless links.
The companies are also exploring additional offerings for businesses, such as backup service for unexpected events and extending connectivity to remote infrastructure.
“Vodafone’s work with Project Kuiper will provide mobile connectivity to many of the estimated 40% of the global population without internet access,” said Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone’s group chief executive. “[It is] supporting remote communities, their schools and businesses, the emergency services, and disaster relief. These connections will be complemented further through our own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.”
“Amazon is building Project Kuiper to provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities, and our flexible network means we can connect places that have traditionally been difficult to reach,” said Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president for devices and services. “Teaming with a leading international service provider like Vodafone allows us to make a bigger impact faster in closing the digital divide in Europe and Africa.”
In particular, the partners said the expanded network will aid sectors such as residential broadband, agriculture, education, health care, transportation and financial services.
Project Kupier is set to rival the connectivity services of SpaceX, established to provide accessible, affordable broadband to customers around the world.
The network will combine LEO satellites with customer terminals, a global network of ground stations and communications infrastructure powered by Amazon Web Services.
While Amazon has made several changes to the rockets set to carry its prototype satellites into orbit, the company has set a target launch date of Sept. 26, with production satellites then set for deployment in 2024.
According to Amazon, beta tests of Project Kuiper services will commence at the end of 2024, with Vodafone and Vodacom planning to participate in the tests through the partnership.
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