Vodafone signs satellite coverage deal with Project Kuiper

Dave Limp AMAZON and Margherita Della Valle VODAFONE 2

Amazon’s low Earth orbit satellite (LEO) venture Project Kuiper has been drafted in by Vodafone and Vodacom to extend the reach of 4G and 5G services in Europe and Africa.

The LEO satellites will be utilised to hook up areas that ‘may otherwise be challenging and prohibitively expensive’ to get to via traditional fibre or microwave solutions – as is the most common use case for LEO deployments.

As part of the job, Project Kuiper will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to the operator’s core telecom networks, meaning Vodafone and Vodacom will be able offer 4G and 5G services in certain locations without the need to build out fibre-based or fixed wireless links back to them

The firms are also exploring some enterprise-specific offerings, such as backup services for unexpected events and extending connectivity to remote infrastructure.

“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,” said Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group Chief Executive (pictured left). “These connections will be complemented further through our own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.”

Dave Limp (pictured right), Amazon’s senior vice president for devices and services added: “Amazon is building Project Kuiper to provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities, and our flexible network means we can connect places that have traditionally been difficult to reach. 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.”

US regulatory body the Federal Communications Commission gave Amazon the go ahead to launch broadband satellites in February, despite an apparent objection from satellite rival Space X.

The service will kick in when Amazon’s production satellites come online. Amazon is preparing to test two prototype satellites in the coming months, and expects to begin beta testing Project Kuiper services with select customers by the end of 2024, which would include this deal.


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