Project Kuiper has been revealed by Jeff Bezos, world’s richest man, which plans to put 3236 satellites in orbit to provide high-speed internet across the globe. A new space race has been triggered in the whole the space industry to bring satellite internet.
The goals of the company is quite interesting and high, which are to build two satellites a day with an expectation of 600 operational satellites operational by 2021. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also received clearance for 12000 satellites, thus they are also in the race. A number of other projects are also in the pipeline with limited funding or are not as yet as defined.
In Washington, this week at the Satellite 2019 international conference, with the entrance of Bezos all the professionals from the sector feared an expensive bloodbath. fearing that if the founder of Amazon, decides to crush the competition with ultra-low prices. The CEO of Iridium Communications, Matt Desch said:
“Jeff Bezos is rich enough to put you out of business,”
He added that when his company launched a satellite phone which cost $3000 and a call rate of $3 a minute in the 1990s, he witnessed bankruptcy. At the start of the smartphone era, barely anyone subscribed. He said that:
The problem with satellites, it’s billions of dollars of investments,”You spend billions and you get it wrong, you end up creating sort of a nuclear winter for the whole industry for 10 years. We did that,” These guys coming in, I wish them really well… I hope they don’t take 30 years to become successful like we did.”
The purpose of the company is clear. They want to prioritize internet for isolated zones than in cities. Satellite internet would be an ideal choice for the places where it is not easy to reach using fiber optic or cable connections. All you need is an antenna to get broadband, to access the satellite internet from anywhere. Al Tadros of Maxar, which builds satellites said:
“It’s just like having a very tall cell tower,”
Newly announced constellations have another advantage which is their relatively low orbit. It will help to reduce latency, key in curbing lag in video calls or games, for example.
Commercially this technology might not be able to generate returns, as their may not be enough customers to make the endeavor profit. OneWeb has thus decided to focus on providing internet services to planes, where there is a huge demand. Imagine getting Netflix on your next long haul or to ships.
Survival in the initial few years when the capital expenses are high is the real challenge, when company does not generate enough revenue to keep you afloat. Most of the companies thus die in these first few years, and may be eventually there will be two players at the end.
At least another 10 years are required for the space delivered internet service to be readily available. Amazon is facing hurdles in acquiring rights to the frequency spectrum and thus getting off the grounds. On Monday, Chief financial officer acknowledging the panel said:
“If they are serious, they will do it and will do it well.”
As said, when it comes to logistics on the ground with its formidable IT infrastructure Amazon still does have a huge advantage. A competitive price for the dozens of launches needed for the constellation, will be secured by Bezos for his own rocket company,Blue Origin.