Vodafone enters satellite deal with Amazon’s Project Kuiper
Project Kuiper will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to Vodafone’s core telecom network
Vodafone Group and Amazon’s Project Kuiper will use low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite technology to extend 4G and 5G connectivity in Europe and Africa, particularly for those in underserved communities.
Project Kuiper will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to Vodafone’s core telecom network, which will enable the company to offer advanced cellular services in more locations without the need for fiber-based builds or fixed wireless links back to the core network.
According to Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group chief executive, these connections will be “complemented further through [the carrier’s] own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.” Much of that work involves its collaboration with AST SpaceMobile, a U.S.-based satellite designer and manufacturer.
Amazon’s Kuiper LEO system was given the go-ahead by the Federal Communications Commission in 2020 for a constellation of 3,236 satellites at various altitudes and in January, the company announced extensive testing. At the time, it set the goal to provide “high-capacity, low-latency broadband communications services to tens of millions of unserved and underserved consumers and businesses.”
Of the recent news, Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president for devices and services commented: “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. Together we’ll explore how we can help our customers get the most value from expanded connectivity, particularly in areas like residential broadband, agriculture, education, healthcare, transportation, and financial services.”
Amazon is preparing to test two prototype satellites this year, with deployment expected to kick off in 2024. As part of the partnerships, Vodafone will participate in that testing, as said that as Amazon’s production satellites come online, services will be deployed for its customers in Africa and Europe.