Facebook’s Satellite Team Gets Poached by Amazon

Image for article titled Facebook's Satellite Plans Might Be Dead, But Amazon's Are Just Beginning

Photograph: Denis Charlet (Getty Photos)

Again in 2016, Fb began tinkering with plans to launch an web satellite tv for pc undertaking that was meant to be part of Mark Zuckerberg’s oft-repeated plans to “connect the world.” 5 years later, it seems to be like the corporate’s backed down—with Amazon taking its place.

The Data was first to notice that greater than a dozen members of Fb’s former satellite tv for pc workforce have since joined up with Amazon’s Venture Kuiper, the ecommerce big’s ambitious project to construct its personal set of satellites to circle the globe. Fb’s ex-head of Southern California Connectivity, Jin Bains, now lists himself as Venture Kuiper’s Director on his Linkedin page, whereas multiple engineers fr0m Fb’s workforce have made that migration as properly.

In accordance with the Data, Amazon paid Fb an undisclosed amount of cash to amass the workers and a Fb spokesperson informed the outlet “the sale to Amazon was one of the simplest ways for the satellite tv for pc workforce to proceed their work, provided that Fb didn’t intend to launch a community of satellites itself.” Fb and Amazon didn’t instantly reply to Gizmodo’s request for remark.

Amazon’s been ramping up hiring efforts for Kuiper because the initiative was first introduced in 2019. The workforce employs about 500 staffers, at present, and there are greater than 200 job listings up on Amazon’s site for engineers, physicists, researchers, and software program builders to work on the undertaking. The purpose, according to the company, is to have this workforce develop a “constellation” of roughly 3,200 satellites that may circle the globe, with the primary half of them launched over the subsequent 5 years. Again in April, the corporate contracted with spacecraft retailer United Launch Alliance to order nine rockets meant to position the primary few thousand satellites in its community. Apart from these interstellar programs, the Kuiper workforce may also be liable for constructing the dozen hulking ground stations liable for beaming information from these satellites again to Earth. All informed, Amazon plans to pour about $10 billion into this undertaking.

Fb, in the meantime, appears to have principally stepped again from the house race to concentrate on connectivity nearer to dwelling; earlier this month, the corporate introduced a brand new initiative to put subsea fiber optic cables spanning over 1,000 miles via the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the identical time, the corporate’s been partnering with corporations like Cisco as a part of its Express Wi-Fi program that spans throughout international locations like South Africa and Malaysia.



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