Amazon’s Kuiper challenge unveils the design of antennas that clients use to entry satellites

Today, Amazon announced the design of the antennas its customers will use to leverage the company’s upcoming massive satellite constellation, Project Kuiper, to provide broadband internet coverage from space.

The antenna, which is a phased array design, was developed and tested this fall, according to the company. With a diameter of just 30 cm, the antenna is “smaller and lighter than conventional antenna designs,” claims Amazon. Tests have shown that the antenna can offer a “maximum throughput of up to 400 Mbit / s”. The company also notes that the antenna can stream 4K quality video from geostationary satellites, spacecraft located approximately 22,000 miles above the earth.

Tests have shown that the antenna can offer a “maximum throughput of up to 400 Mbit / s”.

However, Amazon Kuiper’s satellites will be much closer to Earth. In July, Amazon received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch a constellation of 3,236 satellites for Project Kuiper, with the spacecraft flying at altitudes of 590 kilometers or 630 kilometers or 391 miles. With so many satellites orbiting near Earth, the Kuiper project aims to provide individual users on the planet below with low-latency broadband internet coverage. The aim is to cover remote areas and regions that do not have access to conventional high-speed internet.

Project Kuiper engineers are testing the Ka-band phased array antenna. Image: Amazon

Amazon is one of several companies focused on introducing a massive Internet-from-Space constellation. SpaceX is pursuing the same goal with its Starlink initiative, a proposed constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites that will also provide broadband Internet from low to medium earth orbits. SpaceX has already launched nearly 1,000 of its Starlink satellites and has even begun beta testing to provide selected customers with home antennas that they can use to use the satellites and get Internet coverage. Amazon has not yet launched any satellites, and the company has not yet announced which rocket the satellites will launch on.

Amazon argues that by downsizing its user terminals, it will lower the cost of manufacturing the hardware and lower the price for customers to opt for the program. The company claims it can get small by stacking “tiny antenna element structures” on top of each other.

Antenna test at Project Kuiper HQ in Redmond, Washington. Image: Amazon

“If you want to make a difference to unserved and underserved communities, you need to offer service at a price that makes sense to customers,” said Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, in an Amazon blog post today. “This simple fact inspired one of our most important tenets for Kuiper: invent a lightweight, compact phased array antenna that would allow us to create an affordable customer terminal. It’s amazing to see such a small form factor deliver that kind of speed and performance. ”

The 12-inch diameter makes the Amazon antenna much smaller than the Starlink antenna, based on photos from the SpaceX user terminals that beta testers posted on Reddit. To test SpaceX’s Starlink hardware, beta testers had to pay $ 499 upfront for all equipment and then an additional $ 99 per month. Amazon hasn’t disclosed its pricing for Project Kuiper, but the company has vowed to invest $ 10 billion in the program.

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