Amazon, Verizon Team Up To Provide Faster Internet to Rural America

By on
The Verizon 5G Stadium at Super Bowl LIVE on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida: Verizon was the top bidder for US 5G bandwith, aiming to spend $1.9 to build an ultra-fast network
The Verizon 5G Stadium at Super Bowl LIVE on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida: Verizon was the top bidder for US 5G bandwith, aiming to spend $1.9 to build an ultra-fast network GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Theo Wargo

Verizon and Amazon are teaming up with a mission to meet one of the long unrealized infrastructure goals for the U.S. -- expanding broadband internet access across rural America.

On Tuesday, Verizon released a statement announcing that it would be partnering with Project Kuiper, an Amazon proposal to launch thousands of satellites into orbit in the coming years to increase internet coverage worldwide.

Paired together, Verizon’s 4G and 5G networks with Amazon’s outer space one can mean higher speed internet will be available to harder-to-reach audiences in the coming years, according to company executives. 

"We know the future will be built on our leading 5G network, designed for mobility, fixed wireless access and real-time cloud compute. More importantly, we believe that the power of this technology must be accessible for all," said Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg

“Today’s announcement will help us explore ways to bridge that divide and accelerate the benefits and innovation of wireless connectivity, helping benefit our customers on both a global and local scale,” he continued.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said that there are "billions of people without reliable broadband access" and that "no single company can close the digital divide on their own. " 

"We look forward to partnering with companies and organizations around the world who share this commitment,” said Jassy. 

Bringing Verizon on board for Project Kuiper can be an important milestone for the nascent initiative. Last July, Amazon announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted its approval to Kuiper, but no satellites to date have been launched into orbit. In April, Amazon concluded a deal with the United Launch Alliance with a plan to conduct nine satellite launches. 

The importance of maintaining stable access to the internet has taken on additional urgency after the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of workers and students indoors to protect them from the virus. The surge in remote work and learning has abated somewhat with the pandemic, but hybrid formats are still common to limit any spread in the virus and keep work and learning spaces safe. 

Expanding broadband to rural America through this project could be an important step in addressing a digital divide between U.S. communities today. According to Pew Research, rural America has seen an increase in its connectivity to the internet, but it remains behind suburban and urban counterparts. 

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure agenda has included ideas for expanding broadband access for underserved communities, including an estimated 35% rural Americans.

Join the Discussion