Verizon and Amazon have teamed up in a bid to improve fixed wireless internet access in rural areas in the US.
The plan is to use Amazon's internet satellites to expand Verizon's LTE and 5G service using Amazon's Project Kuiper for "backhaul". Sound confusing? Basically, it's going to use satellites to fill in the gaps for coverage.
There's no timeline provided just yet and it's worth noting that the satellites involved aren't quite there yet. Amazon has lined up rocket launches for the project but it does not expect to have half its satellites in low Earth orbit until 2026. The full line up won't be done until July 2029 at the earliest.
It's a fairly ambitious plan but one that could make a huge difference for those locations that are often overlooked by even the best internet providers (opens in new tab) when it comes to broadband access. The thinking is that eventually Amazon and Verizon hope to provide unified internet access for industries around the world right down to smart farms and transportation. For many in rural areas though, it's simply the promise of not being left behind in the race for faster internet speeds that should prove most appealing.
A Verizon and Amazon future
Verizon is already one of the best cell phone providers (opens in new tab) out there so it makes sense to expand even further. Not that either Amazon or Verizon are likely to be doing this out of kindness. As Engadget (opens in new tab) has explained, both firms are competing with SpaceX, Elon Musk's company. SpaceX's Starlink service is vying for control in space and keen to grab corporate clients like Google which is likely what Amazon and Verizon are considering too.
However, such ambition could prove useful for rural consumers. While last year saw the FCC launch a $9 billion fund to expand 5G in rural areas (opens in new tab), it hasn't proved enough yet. In part, such expansion is why the likes of T-Mobile has aimed to drop 3G from the Sprint network -- all in a bid to speed things up faster but that's faltered too (opens in new tab).
For now, if you live in a rural area, keep an eye on the distant skies and hope that someone gets the job done fast. In the meantime, maybe consider snapping up one of the best smartphones (opens in new tab) so at least you can enjoy speedy performance if not speedy internet speeds.