Verizon and Amazon Team Up to Provide Rural Broadband Access With Satellites

Known as Project Kuiper

Rural broadband internet is about to become available to more people thanks to a collaboration between Verizon and Amazon. 

The companies on Tuesday announced the partnership, which utilizes Amazon’s Project Kuiper, a network of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The satellites will deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband service to places beyond the reach of traditional fiber or wireless networks.

Broadband internet reaching homes
Getty Images/John Rensten

Verizon will help Project Kuiper by expanding its LTE and 5G data networks using cellular backhaul solutions. In addition, the companies will work together to define technical requirements to help extend fixed wireless coverage to rural and remote communities. 

The LEO satellite system will serve individual households, as well as schools, hospitals, businesses, and other organizations operating in places where internet access is limited or unavailable. 

Project Kuiper is a $10 billion initiative from Amazon to increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) around the planet. Elon Musk’s SpaceX also has a similar satellite initiative, known as Starlink, that aims to "deploy the world’s most advanced broadband internet system" to provide "fast, reliable internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable."

Companies have been prioritizing broadband internet access in recent years, and Verizon has previously partnered with the Federal Communications Commission along with AT&T, Comcast, and T-Mobile for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The program allows eligible Americans to sign up for monthly broadband discounts and help close the growing digital divide.

Equal access to broadband networks is increasingly becoming an issue in the US. The FCC estimates that more than 21 million people in the United States lack a broadband connection, including nearly three in 10 (or 27%) in rural areas.

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