According to the latest news, as reported by The Information, Amazon has acquired a team of employees from Facebook who are focused on delivering internet connectivity from low Earth orbit satellites. The report claims Amazon paid Facebook an undisclosed sum as part of the acquisition.
The report points out that around April, more than a dozen Los Angeles based employees switched companies to work on Project Kuiper. The information mentioned that a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the same with the news publisher.
It seems Amazon’s move will bring an end to Facebook’s efforts to deliver internet connectivity to remote areas via its own satellites. Facebook confirmed the initiative in 2018. At that time, the company said, technology would make it possible “to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent.” Previously, Facebook attempted to use internet drones to achieve similar ends before shutting down the project in 2018.
On the other hand, Amazon’s ambitions to provide internet via satellite emerged in 2019. Amazon said it expects to invest $10 billion to launch 3,236 satellites into low earth orbit by 2029. It also said it has an aim of providing internet to “unserved and underserved communities around the world.”
Last year, Amazon got FCC approval to operate the network and launch half its satellites by 2026. The Information report mentioned that Amazon is building a lab in Redmond, WA. It also reported that Amazon has around 500 employees working on its satellite internet project. Last year, Amazon revealed the design of the antennas to its customers.
It is to be noted that as of now, Amazon is yet to launch any of its satellites into space. This April, Amazon confirmed that it has signed an agreement with rocket operator United Launch Alliance (ULA) for nine launches. However, Amazon didn’t come out with a timeline for the launches.
Amazon is one of the handfuls of tech companies that are attempting to use satellites to offer internet connectivity to different parts of the world. SpaceX is one of its biggest competitors which has planned to launch nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit. As of now, SpaceX is already offering its Starlink service as a beta to a limited number of users. Another big company working in the field is OneWeb but last year due to financial difficulties it was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.