Vodafone and Project Kuiper, Amazon’s low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications initiative, have announced a strategic collaboration to extend the reach of 4G/5G services to more of their customers in Europe and Africa.
Vodafone, and Vodacom in Africa, plan to use Project Kuiper’s high-bandwidth, low-latency satellite network to bring the benefits of 4G/5G connectivity to areas that may otherwise be challenging and prohibitively expensive to serve.
Next year, Kuiper will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to the companies’ core telecom networks. This means Vodafone and Vodacom will be able offer 4G/5G services in more locations without the time and expense of building out fibre-based or fixed wireless links back to the core networks.
The companies are also exploring additional enterprise-specific offerings to provide businesses with global connectivity solutions, such as backup services for unexpected events and extending connectivity to remote infrastructure.
Margherita Della Valle (pictured), Vodafone Group chief executive, said: “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. These connections will be complemented further through our own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.”
“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,” added Dave Limp (also pictured), Amazon senior vice president for devices and services.
“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.”
Amazon is preparing to test two prototype satellites in the coming months before starting to deploy production satellites in 2024. Amazon expects to begin beta testing Project Kuiper services with select customers by the end of 2024, and Vodafone and Vodacom will participate in that testing.