Amazon has acquired a team of employees from Facebook focused on delivering Internet connectivity from low Earth orbit satellites. Amazon paid Facebook an undisclosed amount as part of the acquisition, which saw more than a dozen Los Angeles employees switch companies in April to work on Project Kuiper.
The move puts an end to Facebook's efforts to bring Internet connectivity to remote areas via its satellites. When it confirmed the initiative in 2018, the company said it believed the technology makes it possible to deliver a broadband connection to rural areas where internet connectivity is non-existent.
Facebook had previously attempted to use internet drones to achieve similar goals, before shutting down that project in 2018. Meanwhile, Amazon's ambitions to provide satellite internet emerged in 2019.
The company said it expects to invest $10 billion to launch 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit by 2029. With a similar goal of providing internet to underserved and underserved communities around the world.
The company received Federal Communications Commission approval to operate the network last year. Half of its satellites will be launched by 2026.
According to the information, Amazon is building a laboratory in Redmond, and that it currently has about 500 employees working on the satellite Internet project.
Facebook abandons satellite internet
Late last year, Amazon revealed the design of the antennas its customers use to receive internet from a satellite internet service. However, the company has not yet launched any of its satellites into space. In April, Amazon confirmed that it had signed an agreement with missile operator ULA for nine launches. But it did not provide a timetable for when the launches would occur.
Amazon is one of the few tech companies trying to use satellites to provide internet connectivity in parts of the world where it is prohibitively expensive to install fixed infrastructure.
Perhaps the best known is SpaceX, which plans to launch approximately 12,000 satellites into orbit. Starlink is now offered as a trial version for a limited number of users. This is despite the fact that performance from about 1,300 satellites in orbit has so far been inconsistent.
Additionally, there is OneWeb which is investing in this field. But she ran into financial difficulties last year when she had to file for bankruptcy protection.