For a company that started out as an online bookstore, Amazon sure has its fingers in a lot of pies these days.

Thanks to Amazon Web Services, the company is one of the biggest players in cloud computing. Amazon makes and sells its own tablets, media streamers, and other devices (including eReaders, of course). Amazon practically invented a new product category with the Echo line of smart speakers. Oh, and Amazon owns grocery store chain Whole Foods now, for better or worse.

So what’s next? Apparently Amazon wants to become an ISP.

The folks at GeekWire spotted a set of regulatory filings that explain Amazon wants to launch 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit and use them to deliver broadband internet service.

Probably not the Amazon Project Kuiper you’re looking for

Right now Amazon is calling the initiative Project Kuiper, and the company confirmed to GeekWire that the goal is to “provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world.”

In other words, the goal isn’t necessarily to topple existing big-name internet service providers — it’s to get more people online, particularly those in areas that haven’t been well served because it’s inefficient to run cables to every home in some rural areas.

Amazon isn’t the only company that thinks a constellation of low Earth satellites could provide a way to do this. Last year SpaceX received regulatory approval for a similar project. GeekWire notes that other companies including OneWeb, Telestat, LeoSat, Facebook, and Boeing also have similar plans, with some companies having already launched their first satellites.

Meanwhile, Google’s Project Loon and Project Wing have been demonstrating that you don’t necessarily need to leave the atmosphere to provide internet access to hard-to-reach areas. The company’s been doing it with balloons and drones.

Amazon hasn’t received approval to start launching satellites yet, and it could be a few years before it’s ready to do so. There’s no word on whether the next step will be to launch a bookstore in space.

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9 replies on “Amazon plans to launch 3,236 satellites to provide broadband internet”

  1. They are actually satelitte weapons platforms with built in Alexa but shhhh. 🙂

  2. man, gonna be a lot of low orbit satellites out there.
    as a rural customer, this sounds great to me.
    does make me wonder about satellite collisions though.

    1. 3000 (or even 30k for a bunch of competing services) isn’t that many, considering that you’re spreading them somewhat evenly over a sphere larger than Earth.

    2. A far greater problem is the space debris created by anti-satellite weapons testing, like the one India carried out last week. That creates an entire cloud of objects that pose a long lasting threat to other satellites and even the ISS. NASA is rightly pissed at India for conducting that test.

      1. The US has done thousands of tests but India has only done one. The US still does several a year. Right NASA….

        1. Can I get a source on that? From what I’ve read, the US has only actually destroyed one satellite (though there were other tests where the goal was a hit, but a near enough pass was achieved). Also, the tests have all been military, by either the US Navy or Air Force, not the civilian agency, NASA.

  3. “grocery store chain Whole Foods”

    What? Grocery store? Have you ever seen a Whole Foods store? There’s not one location where Whole Foods is small enough to be classified as a “grocery store”. It’s a supermarket chain.

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