LONDON - Vodafone plans to work with Amazon's low Earth orbit satellite constellation Project Kuiper to extend the reach of its 4G and 5G telecoms networks in Europe and Africa.
The British mobile operator said Project Kuiper's high-bandwidth, low-latency satellites would be used to connect mobile base stations in remote locations to its core networks, eliminating the need for fibre-based or fixed wireless links.
Amazon is preparing to test two prototype satellites in the coming months before starting to deploy production satellites in 2024 for its network, which will compete with Elon Musk's Starlink, OneWeb and others.
Vodafone and Amazon said they would work to roll out Project Kuiper's high-speed broadband services to under-served communities around the world, and also offer services to businesses, such as back-up connections.
Dave Limp, Amazon's senior vice president for devices and services, said the partnership would help both customers of both companies "get the most value from expanded connectivity, particularly in areas like residential broadband, agriculture, education, healthcare, transportation and financial services".
Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle said the tie-up would complement the British company's existing work with AST SpaceMobile to develop a space-based mobile network that would connect directly with standard mobile phones without the need for specialised equipment.
Telefonica said last month it had teamed up with Starlink to provide internet connections to rural and remote customers.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alexander Smith)