Vodafone wants to bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved communities around the world, and especially in Europe and Africa. To do that, it just teamed with Amazon’s low Earth orbit satellite (LEO) communications initiative, Project Kuiper.
In a press release, the telco giant announced it will use, through Vodacom, Project Kuiper’s high-bandwidth, low-latency satellite network to establish 4G and 5G connectivity in areas around the world where fiber internet, or microwave solutions, are a challenge to install.
Amazon’s project will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to Vodafone’s core telecom networks, the announcement
Improvements for businesses
Besides the promise of high-speed internet to consumers in these areas, Vodafone also says it’s “exploring additional enterprise-specific offerings” to help businesses in these geographies improve.
According to Dave Limp, Amazon’s SVP for devices and services, the new project will provide high-speed internet to “tens of millions of customers”.
“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.”
The new service is expected to come online as soon as Amazon’s satellites become operational. Amazon is currently getting ready to trial two prototypes, with deployment planned for next year. By the end of next year, the company expects to start beta testing the project, and both Vodafone and Vodacom should be part of the trials.
In March this year, Amazon announced hardware requirements for Project Kuiper, saying it will utilize the 17.8-18.6GHz band and 28.6-29.1GHz frequencies for communication with ground stations. Amazon is currently authorized to deploy and operate its own constellation of 3,236 LEO satellites under Project Kuiper. The company had stated that they would launch half of its constellation by July 2026 (FCC requirements), followed by the remaining by mid-2029 – well behind their competitors SpaceX Starlink and UK-based OneWeb.