Amazon’s Project Kuiper finally achieved lift-off for its low earth orbit (LEO) satellites after several delays, but an analyst proposed the satellite broadband service missed an opportunity to rise above its rivals.  

The company’s first two prototype satellites KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2 were sent into space on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on 6 October. They will begin initial testing of a broadband service once operational at an altitude of 500 kilometres.

The end-goal is to deploy a constellation of 3,236 satellites to provide broadband services to rural and hard to reach locations. Amazon has committed $10 billion to Project Kuiper as it seeks to rival the likes of Starlink and OneWeb.

Amazon has previously stated the satellite broadband service would be available to some customers by year-end 2024.

Like Starlink and other satellite service providers, Project Kuiper’s network will run on the Ka-band.

Peter Kibutu, advanced technology lead for non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) at research firm TTP, noted while Amazon hasn’t shared much technical information about its satellites “it appears that it is taking the same vertically integrated approach, based on proprietary technology, to Starlink”.

“Amazon’s long-term plan should be to build a constellation based on 3GPP 5G NTN standards to benefit from a wider ecosystem of innovation and the ongoing performance enhancements offered by industry best practices,” he stated in a research note.

Given its late entry into the field, Kibutu’s suggestion could potentially give Project Kuiper’s service a unique advantage over its rivals.

“This approach also enables integration with terrestrial networks and user terminals, that require conformance with standardised technology,” he stated. “ This will enable Amazon to deliver broadband services to the mass-market and cover a wider range of use cases.”