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Sources Say Amazon Testing Its Own Wireless Networking Service 23

Posted by timothy
from the sweet-data-from-above dept.
Google has captured lots of attention with its municipal fiber efforts in Kansas City and Austin; Amazon, say some anonymous sources, is experimenting with a networking project of its own (distinct from its Whispernet 3G content delivery service) to connect users' devices to the internet. Rather than fiber, though, Amazon's tests involve spectrum controlled by satellite communications company Globalstar Inc., according to sources "who asked not to be identified because the test was private. ... Amazon continually tries various technologies, and it’s unclear if the wireless network testing is still taking place, said the people. The trial was in the vicinity of Amazon’s Lab126 research facilities in Cupertino, the people said. Lab126 designs and engineers Kindle devices."
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Sources Say Amazon Testing Its Own Wireless Networking Service

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Latency. 44,000 miles is very unforgiving.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Latency. 44,000 miles is very unforgiving.

      From TFA: "Globalstar is seeking regulatory approval to convert about 80 percent of its spectrum to terrestrial use."

      So what's it like being a brain surgeon?

      • Re:One word (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:34AM (#44668943) Journal
        Unless Globalstar has something really clever on the table, they should think carefully about the sordid saga of LightSquared [wikipedia.org]... They thought that they'd buy a bunch of satellite-to-ground spectrum for peanuts and then get a waiver to use it as (much, much, more valuable) ground-ground spectrum. Shockingly, satellite-to-ground users in nearby spectra, with their feeble transmitters a zillion miles away, were Not Very Happy at the prospect of having comparatively massive towers screaming on nearby channels all over the economically relevant parts of the continental US.

        At this point, LightSquared runs a fairly uninteresting satellite internet business and an unbelievably obnoxious lobbying business, stomping their feet and pouting because they aren't being allowed to pull their spectrum conversion trick.
        • From reading the wikipedia article I get the impression that lightsquared got very close to getting away with it. I get the impression that the reason they didn't get away with it was because the service they were stepping on was GPS which is used by damn near everyone. So it gave them a LOT of opponents both military and civillian.

          • Yes indeed. Now they're trying to stomp [arstechnica.com] on NOAA [noaa.gov], a comparatively small and weak governmental entity (they can't even find enough money to replace lost weather buoys).

            Nothing like the economic power of a determined billionaire and the bottomless pit of graft and avarice that is the Congress to keep bad ideas afloat.

        • I haven't looked at what band Globalstar has but I suspect they'll have a far easier time converting then what Lightsquared did for the simple fact that they're not interfearing with GPS signals as Lightsquared was doing.

          Another thing is that they're not trying to convert all of their bandwidth to terrestrial, just 80 percent of it. Keep in mind that they already have a profitable business - think they own Dish/Direct-TV and offer a Satelite based Internet or rent the bandwidth to others for the same purpos

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:04AM (#44668855) Journal

    It makes some sense... If Amazon has enough Kindles out there scarfing down content, they might be able to save a lot of money by having their own wireless data service comparable to the nation-wide cellular service. Making the hardware, they can stick in whatever kind of proprietary radios they want, and then they'll have a large installed base of potential customers that only need to click the button to signs-up for service. And they've got lots of content in their walled-garden to fill those invisible series of tubes as well.

    They've obviously got a partner with enough spectrum. And telcos like Sprint are actively soliciting rental space on their cell towers, so Amazon doesn't even need to do the hard part. They could have service up and running in a few big cities in just weeks.

    • The one aspect that I find hard to understand is where Amazon thinks that their edge would be in going it alone. You can be an MVNO of any of the major cell companies with just a dash of legal paperwork, and that gets you instant network access, allows you to use commodity cell radio technology from a variety of vendors (and all the messy patent stuff is their problem), and it isn't as though the cell guys are sandbagging in terms of R&D, they're just evil about pricing.

      Either they think that they ha
    • It makes some sense... If Amazon has enough Kindles out there scarfing down content, they might be able to save a lot of money by having their own wireless data service comparable to the nation-wide cellular service. Making the hardware, they can stick in whatever kind of proprietary radios they want, and then they'll have a large installed base of potential customers that only need to click the button to signs-up for service. And they've got lots of content in their walled-garden to fill those invisible series of tubes as well.

      They've obviously got a partner with enough spectrum. And telcos like Sprint are actively soliciting rental space on their cell towers, so Amazon doesn't even need to do the hard part. They could have service up and running in a few big cities in just weeks.

      Just what we need, more fragmentation. *sigh*

      If it's convenient (and drives enough profit), no one will care one bit about this sort of fragmentation until it becomes an industry standard (to have your own network). And when people start to want interoperability, it will be too late - the price will go up for a non-fragmented alternative.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've been expecting this for years. Amazon likes to own infrastructure (fulfillment centers, starting to experiment with their own last-mile delivery, etc.) as well as the fact that the last generation of Kindle Fire had a proprietary antenna that can work with almost any frequency. It definitely makes sense for them to own the pipe to their devices, and would give them an edge over Google or Apple.

      "Don't want to pay monthly fees to get online? Well, now with Prime, you get 2GB of free transfer to any Amazo

  • I assume it's Globestar TLPS [globalstar.com]. It's a narrow range of frequency (10Mhz) in the upper 2.4Ghz range, for which Globestar has a nation wide license. It will supposedly be a new 802.11 service, not sure about compatibility with existing devices. Hopefully someone with more details can chime in.

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