Amazon has pulled back the curtain on its first slate of Project Kuiper antennas. The terminals, which will transmit data to and from Amazon’s Low Earth Orbit internet satellites, resemble furniture. The largest of the bunch is even the size of a full-blown patio table — it measures 19 inches by 30 inches. That model is intended for enterprise, government and telecommunications operations. Amazon said it will deliver internet speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
The standard terminal for consumers has a smaller footprint, measuring 11 inches square with a thickness of one inch. Without its mounting bracket, it weighs less than five pounds. This antenna should be able to deliver speeds up to 400 Mbps, Amazon says.
The company hasn’t revealed how much the terminals will cost, but says it should be able to build the standard model for less than $400 per unit. SpaceX's Starlink charges $599 for a terminal. That said, there will be a more compact and wallet-friendly terminal available from Amazon too. A seven-inch-square antenna will weigh one pound and offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Amazon designed its own baseband chip for the terminals. It says the chip, which has the code name Prometheus, has "the processing power of a 5G modem chip found in modern smartphones, the capability of a cellular base station to handle traffic from thousands of customers at once and the ability of a microwave backhaul antenna to support powerful point-to-point connections." The same chip is being used in Project Kuiper satellites and ground gateway antennas. Amazon says the chip will enable each satellite to process up to one terabit of traffic per second.
Project Kuiper is set to deploy two prototype satellites on the maiden flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket. That launch is scheduled for May. Amazon expects to begin mass production of satellites by the end of this year and to commence launching them in the first half of 2024. It plans to start offering Project Kuiper service to customers later next year. Earlier this month, Amazon received conditional FCC approval to launch thousands of Low Earth Orbit satellites.