Before the year elapses, Telkom Kenya, alongside Alphabet’s Project Loon will commercially launch balloons that will beam 4G LTE coverage to remote areas in select parts of Central Kenya and Rift Valley. The project, which is still undergoing tests, is one of the programs launched by global corporations, most of which are American, to ensure that underserved populations have access to internet services.
The newest entrant into this race is e-commerce corporation Amazon, which, according to reputable reports, is devising a plan to launch thousands of satellites to provide internet access around the world.
Christened Project Kuiper, the aims of the program are the same as those of Project Loon: provide robust internet services to populations that cannot be served by existing solutions. Whereas Google uses balloons, Amazon will take Facebook’s approach by sending satellites to the atmosphere in an effort to, predictably, reach more customers who use their services, or explore new markets as their main holds are plateauing.
Amazon reportedly says that the project is one of its long-term plans that targets millions of people who lack conventional access to broadband internet. Also, Amazon is also pursuing partners who can work with it to bring the project into fruition. Partners, in this case, may include carriers in select countries as is the case with Loon and Telkom Kenya.
Project Kuiper plans to launch 3236 satellites in low Earth Orbit, including 784 satellites at near 600 klimetres in altitude. 1296 at the height of 610 kilometres and 1156 satellites at 630-kilometre orbit.
As mentioned, Facebook, as well as Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are pursuing the same project for space-based internet access. By the way, satellites have been providing internet access for some time, but those in low-Earth orbit should be superior in terms of low latency and reduced budgets for deployment.