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Amazon unveils Project Kuiper satellite Internet antennas — with up to 1Gbps speeds


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Amazon has given a first look at the antennas it plans to offer customers for its upcoming satellite broadband service — Project Kuiper.

As with other satellite Internet services, Project Kuiper will require customers to install a skyward-facing antenna that can communicate with the service’s satellite constellation.

The antennas will be offered in three sizes — a standard square unit for providing fixed connectivity to homes and small businesses, a compact square unit for mobile usage, and a large rectangular antenna for enterprise, government, and telecoms use.

The standard unit measures 11 inches (28cm) in length and width, has a 1-inch (2.54cm) thickness, and weighs less than five pounds (2.27kg), excluding its mounting bracket.

Starlink’s rectangular dish for residential users is a bit bigger and chunkier, measuring 51.3cm by 30.3cm and weighing 4.17kg.

However, it has also filed for FCC approval of a 29cm x 25cm antenna, roughly the same as a MacBook laptop.

Amazon said its Project Kuiper standard antenna would be capable of supporting download speeds up to 400Mbps, making it one of the “most powerful commercially available” customer terminals of its size.

Render of Project Kuiper standard antenna for homes and small businesses

Project Kuiper’s mobile unit measures 7 x 7 inches (17.78 x 17.78cm) and weighs one pound (0.45kg).

In addition to being suited for portable use, Amazon said it could be an alternative low-cost option for residential users.

It could also serve government and enterprise customers who use Internet of Things (IoT) networks.

The biggest antenna — a high-performance unit with dimensions of 19 x 30 inches (48 x 72cm) — is promising speeds of up to 1Gbps.

At the moment, Starlink’s maximum speed is 500Mbps, although it aims to increase that to 10Gbps as its satellite fleet expands.

Project Kuiper high-performance antenna

To power Amazon’s Project Kuiper antennas and satellites, the company developed its own baseband chip, codenamed “Prometheus”.

The chip combines a smartphone 5G modem chip with the capabilities of cellular base stations, enabling the ability to handle traffic from thousands of customers at any given time.

It also supports the point-to-point communication of microwave backhaul antennas.

The prices of the antennas are not yet known, but Amazon said the standard antenna’s expected production cost would be about $400.

Even with a substantial profit margin, it could undercut the $599 price of SpaceX’s standard Starlink kit.

However, SpaceX has significantly reduced production costs on its kits since it first launched, so it is possible that a price cut is on the horizon.

Playing catch up to Starlink

Amazon said it hopes to serve tens of millions of customers with Project Kuiper in the coming years.

But it has much catching up to do if it plans to compete with Starlink.

SpaceX has already launched well over 3,500 Starlink satellites to date and is way ahead of Amazon’s sister company Blue Origin regarding satellite launch capability.

Amazon is relying on Blue Origin and two other private space companies — Arianespace and United Launch Alliance (ULA) — to put its satellites into orbit.

The first two prototype satellites are set to be launched as part of a larger payload on ULA’s Vulcan rocket before the end of March 2023.

Amazon plans to start mass-producing its Project Kuiper satellites by the end of the year.

The first commercial satellites are slated for launch into orbit in the first half of 2024, the same year in which Amazon expects to connect its first customers.

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