SpaceX isn’t the only satellite broadband game in town. In a new blog post detailing its new, low-cost customer terminals for Project Kuiper, its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network, Amazon confirmed that it will be launching a broadband service next year, and while pricing appears to be unknown, early customers can expect to gain access to the service in the second half of 2024. Three types of terminals will be available, including a high-bandwidth model for more demanding users who desire speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). All of these terminals are powered by Prometheus, an Amazon-designed baseband chip.
“Our goal with Project Kuiper is not just to connect unserved and underserved communities, but also to delight them with the quality, reliability, and value of their service,” said Rajeev Badyal, Amazon’s vice president of technology for Project Kuiper. “From day one, every technology and business decision we’ve made has centered on what will deliver the best experience for different customers around the world, and our range of customer terminals reflects those choices.”
From an Amazon post:
To use the service, customers will install an outdoor antenna—called a customer terminal—to communicate with satellites passing overhead. Traditionally, this equipment has been too large, too complex, and too expensive for many customers, making it difficult for LEO constellations to bridge the digital divide in a meaningful way.
An affordable high-performance design for residential and small business customers: Project Kuiper’s standard customer terminal measures less than 11 inches square and 1 inch thick. It weighs less than five pounds without its mounting bracket. Despite this modest footprint, the device will be one of the most powerful commercially available customer terminals of its size, delivering speeds up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps). Amazon expects to produce these terminals for less than $400 each.
An ultra-compact design to help connect even more customers: A 7-inch square design will be Project Kuiper’s smallest and most affordable customer terminal. Weighing just 1 pound and offering speeds up to 100 Mbps, its portability and affordability will create opportunities to serve even more customers around the world. This design will connect residential customers who need an even lower-cost model, as well as government and enterprise customers pursuing applications like ground mobility and internet of things (IoT).
A high-bandwidth design for the most demanding needs: Project Kuiper’s largest, most capable model is designed for enterprise, government, and telecommunications applications that require even more bandwidth. The device measures 19 inches by 30 inches, and will deliver speeds up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).
Powered by Amazon-designed custom chips
Project Kuiper customer terminals are powered by an Amazon-designed baseband chip, developed under the code name “Prometheus.” Prometheus combines the processing power of a 5G modem chip found in modern smartphones, the capability of a cellular base station to handle traffic from thousands of customers at once, and the ability of a microwave backhaul antenna to support powerful point-to-point connections—and it packs all of that into a single custom chip.
In addition to being in Project Kuiper’s customer terminals, Prometheus is also used in Project Kuiper’s satellites and ground gateway antennas, allowing the system to process up to 1 terabit per second (Tbps) of traffic on board each satellite.