Amazon has reportedly filed a request with the ITU to launch and place into Low Earth orbit (LEO) a mega-constellation of 3236 satellites.
In doing so Amazon will be competing with the already established fleet of 20 SES/O3b satellites, plus other planned services from SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat, Leosat and others.
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is also building a privately-funded reusable rocket system (Blue Origin) which is more than capable of launching clusters of satellites to LEO orbit.
Amazon is evidently looking to provide connectivity to underserved and remote populations on the planet. Amazon has given the fleet the code name of ‘Kuiper’.
Sami Kassab, an equity analyst at investment bank Exane/BNPP suggests that LEO constellations are not technically designed for Video DTH (satellites are not fixed, tracking antenna costs are prohibitive) and do not make economic sense for residential broadband (poor bandwidth economics vs. GEO and prohibitive cost of tracking antennas). ‘’LEO constellations are likely to target corporate and government applications such as mobility (inflight, maritime), mobile network backhauling, government markets (connecting hospitals and schools).’’
In a note to clients he says he believes that SES and Inmarsat are most exposed to LEO competition. Eutelsat is less exposed as it is focusing on video and residential broadband.