Vodafone, Amazon's Project Kuiper to extend 4G/5G reach
Vodafone is working with Amazon's low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation Project Kuiper to extend the reach of its 4G and 5G telecoms networks in Europe and Africa.
In a statement, Vodafone and Vodacom said it plans to use Project Kuiper's high-bandwidth, low-latency satellite network to bring the benefits of 4G/5G connectivity to remote areas via traditional fiber or microwave solutions.
Project Kuiper will connect geographically dispersed cellular antennas back to the companies' core telecom networks.
This means the telcos will be able to offer 4G/5G services in more locations without the time and expense of building out fiber-based or fixed wireless links back to the core networks, the companies said.
Project Kuiper ins and out
The partnership will see Vodafone and Amazon roll out Project Kuiper's high-speed broadband services to underserved communities around the world and offer services to businesses, such as backup connections.
Vodafone, Vodacom and Project Kuiper will begin deploying services in Africa and Europe as Amazon's production satellites come online.
Amazon is preparing to test two prototype satellites in the coming months before starting to deploy production satellites in 2024.
"Amazon expects to begin beta testing Project Kuiper services with select customers by the end of 2024, and Vodafone and Vodacom plan to participate in that testing through this collaboration," the statement added.
"Vodafone's work with Project Kuiper will provide mobile connectivity to many of the estimated 40% of the global population without Internet access, supporting remote communities, their schools and businesses, the emergency services, and disaster relief," said Vodafone Group Chief Executive Margherita Della Valle.
She added that these connections will be complemented through the telco's own work on direct-to-smartphone satellite services.
Project Kuiper to fight the digital divide
Teaming up with a service provider like Vodafone will allow Amazon to make a bigger impact in closing the digital divide in Africa and Europe, said Dave Limp, Amazon's senior vice president for devices and services.
"Amazon is building Project Kuiper to provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities, and our flexible network means we can connect places that have traditionally been difficult to reach," Limp continued.
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said this collaboration allows Vodacom to scale its efforts, using Amazon's satellite constellation to quickly reach more customers across the African continent.
Satellite deals connecting underserved
The partnership between Vodafone and Amazon comes at a time when other companies are inking satellite partnerships as well.
In April 2023, Lynk Global, a satellite-direct-to-standard-phone telecoms company, signed a commercial contract with Telecel Group in Africa to provide services to Vodafone Ghana's subscribers.
Also in April 2023, Kenya's launch of its first operational Earth observation satellite "Taifa-1" – which means "Nation-1" in Swahili – in April 2023.
In February 2023, Dimension Data subsidiary Internet Solutions (IS) announced it was expanding its partnership with Q-KON Africa to bring the OneWeb LEO satellite service to the Mozambican market.Related posts:
- Vodafone Ghana, Lynk ink satellite-to-phone deal
- Kenya to launch first operational satellite
- Internet Solutions, Q-KON Africa launch satellite broadband for Mozambique
*Top image is of Vodafone Group Chief Executive Margherita Della Valle and Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices and Services Dave Limp. (Source: Vodafone)
— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa