The Project Kuiper Vs. The starlink debate has many people buzzing.
It provides a bright look at the future of ultra-fast internet connectivity in remote areas.
The Project Kuiper Vs. Starlink billionaire space race sets up an interesting look into how we will get information.
Amazon’s Project Kuiver agreed with three companies to launch 83 satellites into orbit to rival Starlink’s already-launched 2000.
United Launch Alliance will oversee 38 launches as Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin handles 12. The rest will fall under Arianespace.
Will Starlink get approval for its 30,000 satellites? Will Project Kuiper succeed with its forecasted 3,236 satellites? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- What Is Project Kuiper?
- When Will Project Kuiper Satellites Launch?
- Project Kuiper Vs. Starlink Comparison
- Final Thoughts
What Is Project Kuiper?
Jeff Bezos is the textbook definition of ambition.
In 2019, he founded Project Kuiper.
For space enthusiasts, Kuiper is not a new term. It’s a set of planetary bodies visible around Neptune.
According to Amazon, Project Kuiper serves the “unserved and underserved.”
It is a project to provide ‘high-speed, low latency internet for people in far-flung, quieter areas.
The mega corporation has already pumped $10 billion to launch over 3000 satellites into space.
The plan comes after Amazon got the green flag from FCC in 2021.
In line with its agenda, Project Kuiper is a decade-long process aiming to provide up to 400 Mbps to its first customers in 2024.
It plans to achieve low latency by launching 3,236 satellites in low-earth orbit.
Amazon has set a 2026-2029 timeline for the project’s full realization.
When Will Project Kuiper Satellites Launch?
Although Amazon has yet to release an official date, it is scheduled to release two test satellites in 2023.
The original plan was to launch “KuiperSat-1” and “KuiperSat-2” in Q4 of 2022.
However, they updated the plans to the Q2 of 2023 to launch the satellites on Vulcan Centaur rockets.
Currently, Project Kuiper has not launched any satellites.
The delay might be because of the pending completion of the KuiperSat satellites.
Rajeev Badyal, VP of Technology at Project Kuiper, said, “The satellites will be ready this year.”
The project is well on the course as facilities across the U.S. and Europe scale up operations and production capacity.
After all, their approval included requirements to launch their first satellites by 2026 and finish by 2029.
Project Kuiper Vs. Starlink Comparison
Project Kuiper is another entrant to a formidable competition to provide satellite broadband internet.
Other providers like OneWeb have already established themselves in the race.
Project Kuiper currently doesn’t have any satellites in orbit.
However, they have received approval for 3276 by 2029.
Conversely, Starlink has 2000 satellites deployed.
Its sights are set on 30,000, with 12,000 already approved for deployment.
Both projects comprise low-earth satellites to ensure low latency for their customers.
Testimonies from Starlink users report low latency of about 20ms.
The reports show numbers up to 40ms.
Project Kuiper’s latency is yet to be seen, though.
However, we can only guess it won’t be far from what Starlink offers.
Starlink’s satellites hover about 340 miles above Earth.
On the other hand, Project Kuiper’s satellites are expected to hover between 370 and 390 orbital miles above the Earth.
Project Kuiper vs. Starlink high-speed internet
Speed might just be where we witness the highest rivalry between Starlink vs. Project Kuiper.
Starlink is doing well, with download speeds peaking at 150Mbps and uploads at 10Mbps.
However, Starlink Business has an enticing promise of up to 500Mbps for a $500 monthly charge.
Conversely, Project Kuiper announced in 2023 that its phased antenna could provide download speeds of up to 300Mbps.
Also, they have a modest-cost plan for the regular user.
It features a 7” dish that provides 100Mbps.
Government and enterprise users will benefit from its mega-fast 1Gbps service that will go for a premium price tag.
Ground control station
Starlink currently has 147 operational Starlink gateways.
It has announced expansion plans to add 19 more to the 13 in construction.
Most of the ground stations are in the US.
Australia and South America arguably have the next highest number of ground infrastructure.
The stations are spread globally, with one location in Nigeria, Africa.
It also got the go-ahead to upgrade 22 facilities with E-band capabilities.
Upgrading to E-band means users will benefit from faster download and uplink speeds.
Compared to Starlink, Project Kuiper is expected to start with 12 AWS ground stations.
Amazon has not clarified how many more ground stations it plans to add.
These gateways are the link between the satellites and the users’ devices.
Starlink dish on flat ground
Starlink’s two dishes are already known.
They come in the older round circular dish and the modern square dish.
Users favor the modern 11lb dish with the phased array antenna.
The Starlink kit has the dish, a router, and a mounting base.
Customers can get other accessories, including adapters and other mounting options.
While we may not know much about Project Kuiper’s hardware, we know Amazon wants to release a lighter dish with a phased array antenna.
They also plan on making it smaller than Starlink’s.
The cost might be another area where users must make tough calls.
Current prices for a Starlink kit stand at $599, up from $499 owing to inflation.
Plans begin at $110 with zero contract and termination fees.
There was a rise in monthly charges from $99 due to inflation.
Users also have to pay a $99 deposit fee.
Project Kuiper hasn’t announced any prices yet. However, the project engineers and designers were tasked with building a sub $500 terminal.
According to Amazon, the production cost of the terminals came in at about $400 apiece.
We don’t expect prices to be too far apart, though.
Sidenote: Starlink has special plans and charges for unique setups. For example, RV owners pay an additional $25 to move locations.
Business and heavy users (150-500Mbps) pay $500 monthly with a $2500 user terminal.
Maritime users got a special package in 2022 to get internet in international waters.
The service came with 350Mbps, a unique maritime-grade $10,000 terminal, and $5000 a month.
Starlink shared on its Space X Twitter account they had reached 1,000,000 subscribers in March 2023.
With the popularity of the other companies tied to one of its founders, Elon Musk, it’s no surprise they still have a long waiting list.
Starlink lowered rates in some countries to attract better numbers. Such countries include Brazil and Chile, which got up to 50% off.
Project Kuiper remains silent on the expected subscribers for its service.
Still, we expect stiff competition once the project has solid speeds and ready equipment.
Perhaps the Project aims to maximize its other projects, such as the Alexa and Firestick.
Q: When will Project Kuiper be available?
A: The earliest we can expect Project Kuiper Internet is 2026.
That is in line with a deadline that was an approval prerequisite.
Q: Are there major concerns with Starlink vs. Project Kuiper?
A: There have been concerns the number of satellites in low orbit will interfere with space monitoring.
However, Starlink has taken steps to make its satellites less reflective.
Q: Is Starlink better than 5G?
A: T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet currently offers up to 115 Mbps for $50/month.
Starlink caters to people who can’t access fast internet.
5G is more practical if you’re in a city and have access to the internet.
Project Kuiper’s entrance into the satellite internet service field is exciting.
It will give you a chance to experience the wet at unprecedented rates.
We are yet to see if the project will lead to better service delivery.