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NTT Joins Forces with Amazon to Launch Satellite Internet Service, Taking on SpaceX in Japan

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Japanese telecom giant NTT has joined forces with Amazon in a strategic collaboration to introduce satellite internet services in Japan, set for a trial as early as 2024. The move is a direct challenge to the established presence of SpaceX in the emerging satellite broadband sector.

Amazon’s broadband initiative, Project Kuiper, commenced with the launch of two prototype satellites in October, with plans to establish a constellation of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) for global broadband coverage. SpaceX’s Starlink, a key player in this field, already operates over 5,000 satellites in LEO and has been in partnership with Japanese telecom carrier KDDI to deliver satellite broadband services in Japan since 2021.

NTT, alongside its mobile and international telecom units, and satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect JSAT, is part of Amazon’s Japanese consortium. The collaborative effort aims to provide satellite internet services to businesses and government organizations, utilizing Project Kuiper to enhance connectivity options and establish resilient communication networks.

While the service is initially targeting businesses and government entities, there’s consideration for a future retail customer service, according to an NTT spokesperson. Project Kuiper is slated to begin testing services in the second half of 2024, with NTT and Sky Perfect JSAT actively participating in the testing phase.

Satellite broadband, traditionally requiring a separate antenna, has primarily served remote areas, islands, and areas with disrupted conventional services. Operators like Amazon and SpaceX are now exploring satellite-to-smartphone services to broaden their appeal. However, industry experts, including Atsushi Murakami, President of Satellite Business Network, suggest that widespread consumer adoption may be contingent on these services reaching parity with established optical fiber networks, which currently dominate broadband connectivity in Japan.

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