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Friday, Jul 30, 2021

Amazon acquires Facebook's satellite internet team, bolstering its efforts to compete with SpaceX

Amazon acquires Facebook's satellite internet team, bolstering its efforts to compete with SpaceX

Amazon has acquired Facebook's team of more than a dozen satellite internet experts, The Information reported Tuesday and spokespeople for the two companies confirmed. The talent acquisition ends Facebook's yearslong experiment with bringing broadband internet to remote locations.
The deal bolsters Amazon's $10 billion effort to develop low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites capable of delivering high-speed broadband internet around the globe, while marking the end of Facebook's ultimately unsuccessful efforts to do the same.

Facebook's team, which joined Amazon's existing 500-person operation in April, included physicists as well as hardware and software engineers who have experience working on aeronautical and wireless systems, according to The Information.

The talent acquisition deal included some intellectual property developed by the team, as well as equipment and facilities, Facebook told Insider. Other terms were not disclosed.

Amazon has raced to compete with other satellite internet companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX and its Starlink network, in addition to OneWeb, and the Europe-based Eutelsat.

Amazon received approval in July 2020 from the Federal Communications Commission to launch 3,236 LEO satellites in an effort called Project Kuiper, with the company saying it plans to bring its satellite-based internet service online after 578 satellites are in orbit.

Facebook's efforts to develop its own satellite-based internet service, which began as early as 2015, have encountered multiple hurdles. The company told The Information it no longer plans to launch its own network, and told Insider it instead plans to continue working with partner companies like Eutelsat and pursuing its other efforts to expand internet access.
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