Jeff Bezos, speaking at a conference in Las Vegas last week, said that his Project Kuiper plan to populate the sky with thousands of satellites for global broadband was the sort of gamble a business of Amazon’s size needed to ensure growth.
Bezos pulled no punches, telling delegates that Amazon was prepared to lose billions of dollars in capital expenditure. “It’s multiple billions of dollars in capex,” Bezos said. “Amazon is a large enough company now that we need to be doing things that, if they work, can actually move the needle. We can’t do things that, if they work, they’ll be small.”
Bezos said his mega-constellation would be really good at accessing people who are “under-bandwidthed”, adding “Access to broadband is going to be very close to being a fundamental human need as we move forward.”
Another battle comes from OneWeb, which is backed in part by Japan’s SoftBank giant investment conglomerate. Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder has started delivering his satellites into orbit. So has Elon Musk.
Whether either Musk or Wyler will be able to match Bezos’s spend and commitment only time will tell. Bezos has one distinct advantage over his rivals; he already has a trading relationship with millions of customers who love his delivery services, his OTT movie and TV system and might be ready to switch loyalty from their existing broadband supplier to Amazon.