Amazon, Vrio to launch satellite internet in South America, competing with Starlink


FILE PHOTO: Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of an Amazon logo in this illustration taken Feb. 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Amazon and telecommunications firm Vrio will jointly launch a satellite internet service in seven South American countries, the two parties said on Thursday, putting them in direct competition with Elon Musk's Starlink.

Vrio, the U.S. firm that manages the Latin American branch of DirecTV as well as Sky Brasil, will offer the service to customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

"We think the opportunity is huge," Lucas Werthein, vice president of Vrio, told Reuters.

Amazon's Project Kuiper, started by a former Starlink employee, will provide internet using satellites in what is known as low Earth orbit.

"Around 200 million people in the region have poor, little or no internet access," Werthein said, citing World Bank estimates. "Add to that the geographical terrain, and, of course, a continent that has challenges in making large infrastructure investments."

The service is set to come online in mid-2025, starting in Argentina, according to Project Kuiper's launch plan.

Project Kuiper will outline its plan in coming months to put 3,236 satellites in the sky, the firm's Latin American business development head, Bruno Henriques, said.

Amazon said in 2019 that it planned to invest $10 billion in the project.

"Our goal is that all customers, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas have the same level of broadband access," Henriques said.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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