British mobile operator Vodafone wants to expand its 4G and 5G coverage with the help of Amazon’s low-Earth orbit satellite constellation, Project Kuiper. Vodafone wants to use Project Kuiper’s high-bandwidth, low-latency network to improve connectivity services in Africa and Europe, two areas where the company has high concentrations of customers.
In addition, the partnership would make 4G and 5G connectivity possible in more remote areas where it’s too difficult or expensive to build out fiber-based or fixed wireless links. In addition, Vodafone wants to use the power of Amazon’s satellite constellation to offer services, like back-up connections, to businesses. Working with Project Kuiper could mean more accessible, reliable and affordable connectivity for Vodafone’s millions of customers around the world.
“Vodafone’s work with Project Kuiper will provide mobile connectivity to many of the estimated 40% of the global population without internet access, supporting remote communities, their schools and businesses, the emergency services, and disaster relief,” Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, said in a statement. “These connections will be complemented further through our own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.”
Vodafone will start deploying services as soon as Project Kuiper comes online in 2024. Amazon plans to launch the first satellites for the home internet service later this month.
Project Kuiper, like SpaceX’s Starlink service, aims to offer high speed internet from space. This means Amazon’s service could potentially average close to Starlink’s 90.55 Mbps down and 9.33 Mpbs up with a latency of 43. Amazon is reportedly hoping to be a more affordable option at under $100 a month.
Starlink is working with T-Mobile to offer expanded coverage across the US, although there’s been little update to its progress.
Earlier this month, investors filed suit against Amazon alleging the company didn’t properly field competing bids before choosing to partner with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin startup to launch its home internet service satellites. According to the lawsuit, Jeff Bezos’ role as the founder of both Amazon and Blue Origin created a conflict of interest.