Vodafone e Project Kuiper, Amazon’s project for satellite communications in low earth orbit (LEO), last September they announced a strategic collaboration thanks to which Vodafone and Vodacom plan to use Project Kuiper’s high-bandwidth, low-latency satellite network to extend the reach of 4G/5G services across Europe and Africain areas otherwise difficult to serve through traditional network solutions.
The collaboration focuses on several key elements:
Extending Vodafone’s 4G/5G networks into Africa and Europe: Vodafone will use the Project Kuiper satellite constellation to extend the reach of its 4G/5G mobile networks into Africa and Europe. The partnership will help Vodafone and Vodacom connect underserved communities, where traditional fiber and radio connectivity solutions are difficult and expensive to deploy. Project Kuiper will use satellite connectivity to connect companies’ geographically dispersed cellular antennas to their core telecommunications networks. Project Kuiper Beta Testing: Project Kuiper plans to test two prototype satellites in the coming months before beginning to deploy production satellites in 2024. Additionally, Project Kuiper plans to offer the first pilot services to select enterprise customers by the end of 2024 and Vodafone and Vodacom will be among the first to participate in these tests. Launch of Project Kuiper services: The collaboration between Vodafone and Amazon plans to expand the availability of Project Kuiper high-speed broadband services around the world. Companies are also evaluating specific offers for businesses with the aim of providing them with global and complete connectivity solutions.
How the Kuiper project works
The Kuiper project will connect geographically widespread cellular antennas to telecommunications networks: Vodafone and Vodacom will thus be able to offer 4G/5G services in a greater number of locations without having to deal with the time and costs of building fiber or fixed-wireless connections. As part of the agreement, Amazon intends to partner with Vodafone to deploy Project Kuiper’s high-speed broadband services to underserved and underserved communities around the world. Companies are also evaluating additional enterprise-specific offerings to provide them with comprehensive global connectivity solutions, such as backup service for unexpected events and extending connectivity to remote infrastructures.
The next steps
Vodafone, Vodacom and Project Kuiper will begin rolling out services in Africa and Europe as soon as Amazon’s production satellites come online. Amazon is preparing to test two satellite prototypes in the coming months, before starting to deploy satellites in 2024. Amazon plans to begin beta testing with selected customers by the end of 2024, and Vodafone and Vodacom plan to participate through this collaboration .
Margherita Della Valle, Chief Executive Officer of the Vodafone Group, said: “Vodafone’s work with Project Kuiper will provide mobile connectivity to many of the people without internet access who are estimated to be 40% of the global population, supporting remote communities, their schools and their businesses, emergency services and disaster relief. These connections will be further complemented by our work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.”
Dave Limp, Senior Vice President for Devices and Services di Amazon said, “Amazon is building Project Kuiper to provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in underserved and underserved communities, and our flexible network allows us to connect traditionally hard-to-reach places. Partnering with a leading international service provider like Vodafone allows us to have a bigger and faster impact in bridging the digital divide in Europe and Africa. Together we will explore how we can help our customers get the most value from extended connectivity, particularly in sectors such as residential broadband, agriculture, education, healthcare, transportation and financial services.”
Shameel Josub, CEO of Vodacom Group: “At Vodacom, our purpose is to connect for a better future and we work every day to bring more people in Africa online.” “Partnering with Project Kuiper offers us an exciting new path to scale our efforts, using Amazon’s satellite constellation to rapidly reach more customers across the African continent.”
Cover photo: The terminal’s antennas are used to send and receive data to and from Project Kuiper satellites.