According to The Information, Amazon has hired a team of Facebook satellite employees to work on offering internet access via low-Earth-orbit satellites. As part of the deal, Amazon paid Facebook an unknown amount of fee, and more than a dozen Facebook workers in Los Angeles switched organizations in April to work on Project Kuiper, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the news.
SpaceX, Amazon, Softbank, and Facebook are among the major players in the race to develop satellite internet. It’s a big step forward for Amazon in terms of developing its Project Kuiper satellite network and catching up to SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.
Project Kuiper, like Starlink, aims to deliver low-latency, high-speed broadband access to consumers all across the world.
Amazon released the design of the antennas that its customers will use to receive internet from its satellite internet service late last year. Last year, the firm received FCC authority to run the network, and by 2026, it will have launched half of its satellites.
Following the acquisition of Facebook satellite team, Facebook said that it will continue “working with satellite operator partners to extend access through Wi-Fi,” including a project in Sub-Saharan Africa with Eutelsat.
Meanwhile, it appears that Facebook is exiting the satellite internet industry in favour of terrestrial initiatives, having invested in subsea and terrestrial fibre as well as wireless services such as ExpressWiFi. The company’s PointView Tech affiliate recently launched a “Athena” satellite, although it was merely a test mission and not the start of a satellite internet network.