Amazon is officially joining the race to create a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that will provide high-speed terrestrial internet services.
The company has filed its first papers with the U.S. government for approval to launch a network of 3,236 satellites through a subsidiary called Kuiper Systems LLC, according to a report in GeekWire.
“Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” Amazon confirmed in a statement. “This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”
Named for an astronomer who’s considered “the father of modern planetary science,” Gerard Kuiper, Kuiper Systems is the latest foray into space-based internet networking by a U.S. tech giant.
As private companies look to commercialize space, high-speed internet is among the prospects that offer the highest profits in the short term, while providing necessary services to get online the remaining 3.8 billion people who don’t have access to the internet.
In February, OneWeb, another company that’s expecting to create a network of satellites to provide high-speed internet access, successfully launched its first satellites. The company has raised at least $3 billion, according to Crunchbase, from investors, including Virgin, Coca-Cola and the Bharti Group — and they’re not the only company to raise several billion dollars to develop these services.