In the battle of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite internet services, there are two names that pop up frequently: Starlink and Project Kuiper.
Project Kuiper is yet to be launched as a service, but the ardent satellite internet fan in me still wants to know whether Project Kuiper has a hidden card up its sleeve.
So after plenty of research, here are my findings on which service between Starlink and Project Kuiper would likely shape the next decade of satellite internet connectivity.
Starlink is a trusted satellite internet service available commercially. Amazon's project Kuiper is still yet to launch its service, whereas Starlink is now active across all seven continents. Project Kuiper is yet to deploy any satellite whereas Starlink has already launched thousands of satellites.
The Difference in Mode of Operation: Project Kuiper vs Starlink
Both Starlink and Project Kuiper rely on using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites for operation.
This is radically different from services such as HughesNet and ViaSat which rely on a more traditional mode of operation, by using geostationary satellites.
Geostationary satellites operate in the Geostationary orbit, which means it moves along with the rotation of the earth.
The primary advantage of such an implementation is that the satellite in the Geostationary orbit will be stationary on the surface of the earth, therefore needing a single line of path.
Also, since this geostationary orbit is at a height of 22,000 miles from the surface of the earth, a single satellite can cover the range of a whole country.
In fact, HughesNet only has a single satellite in orbit and Viasat only has two satellites.
But due to the long distance between the dish and the satellite, the speeds, and latency you will experience will be paltry compared to fiber options.
Coming to LEO satellites, are meant to orbit the earth at a much lower orbit, at around 300 miles from the surface of the Earth.
This straightaway brings in the added benefit of a much faster internet speed and latency.
But due to the low-orbit nature of the satellites, they satellites are bound to be small and a single satellite won't provide much coverage.
But services like Starlink and Project Kuiper attempt to get rid of this limitation by introducing clusters of satellites, which they call satellite constellations.
This is an expensive affair, and since the satellites are not in the geostationary orbit, satellites are bound to combust into space dust in a matter of years.
But the added benefit of satisfying the consumer with usable speeds is more than enough to justify the costs raked in by launching such satellites.
Starlink has over 3000 satellites in orbit as of writing this video, and Project Kuiper has none so far.
Project Kuiper has great intentions of launching multiple satellites, but they still don't come close to Starlink's planning of launching 10,000 satellites by the end of the decade.
All in all, the headstart Starlink has over Project Kuiper in the sheer number of satellites in space is enough for it to justify a win in my books.
Speeds and Latency Comparison
Speeds and latency would be areas where both Starlink and Project Kuiper excel, compared to other satellite internet options.
Here is a brief outline of the plans and the associated speeds Starlink has currently in operation:
|Starlink Plans||Peak Upload Speeds||Peak Download Speeds|
|Starlink Residential||250 Mbps||20 Mbps|
|Starlink Business||350 Mbps||20 Mbps|
|Starlink RV||250 Mbps||20 Mbps|
|Starlink Maritime||350 Mbps||20 Mbps|
|Starlink Premium||500 Mbps||40 Mbps|
Starlink categorizes its plans based on the usage scenarios and therefore offers similar speeds across all tiers, ranging from 250 to 500 Mbps.
Project Kuiper, on the other hand, has not released any plan details as of yet and is still in an alpha state at the moment.
But they have released statements that their residential plans would include speeds of up to 400 Mbps, compared to Starlink's 250 Mbps claims.
The main point to note here though is that Starlink has proven its promises and offers fantastic speeds that stand very close to their advertised speeds.
But Project Kuiper is yet to take off, and therefore we are left to simply assume what speeds they might come about to offer.
Personally, I do believe that Project Kuiper will deliver on its promises of 400 Mbps. But that will take quite a long time, considering they don't have satellites up there.
Also, Starlink has already begun offering 500 Mbps speeds for premium users, which will probably come down to the regular folks in time, probably by the launch of Kuiper.
I am gonna have to give it to Starlink here too, simply because they have already shown what Project Kuiper merely promised, and have a headstart in this game.
Costs and Expenses
Costs and expenses are a tough nut to crack, especially since Project Kuiper has not released any official documentation regarding it.
What we can go with is the vague statements Project Kuiper has given regarding the costs.
Project Kuiper claims it is focusing on making its dish terminal much smaller and easier to mass produce, compared to what Starlink is offering.
This would help reduce the costs of the equipment and could maybe aid in bringing down the expenses you ultimately get by using Project Kuiper.
But to be honest, there is little confirmation on whether Project Kuiper was comparing their terminal with Starlink's gen 1 circular dish or its newer square (rectangular) dish.
The new rectangular dishy is also much smaller in dimensions and more accessible to mass produce compared to the older round dishy, according to Starlink.
So we would probably have to wait for an official confirmation from Project Kuiper to see how they plan on cutting costs.
Talking about other expenses that we know of and not needing to speculate, here is a brief outline of all Starlink expenses you can expect:
|Starlink Plan||Initial Cost For Equipment||Monthly Subscription Fee|
|Starlink Residential||$599||$90 (high-traffic regions) or $120|
At first glance, things can seem expensive compared to other Satellite internet options such as HughesNet and ViaSat.
Starlink does edge out Project Kuiper on all fronts when it comes to the Low Earth Orbit Satellite internet race.
Project Kuiper had made promises when it was unveiled, on offering great speeds at affordable prices, but Starlink has surpassed those promises with time.
Also, the fact that Project Kuiper is still yet to put a satellite in orbit means that we might have to wait a bit more to even see if they keep up with their promises.
Starlink, on the other hand, has further plans of expansion for the future, with even plans for interplanetary expansion.
I hope my article on which among the two low earth orbit satellite internet services Starlink to Project Kuiper is best has been a helpful read.
Have a good day!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is Project Kuiper owned by Amazon?
Project Kuiper is a project unveiled by Amazon in order to tackle the space internet market, specifically the Low Earth Orbit Satellite internet market.
How many satellites will Project Kuiper have?
During the unveiling of Project Kuiper, Amazon did mention they had plans to launch about 3236 satellites to the Low Earth Orbit.
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