This is a massive one: Google Cloud has won a contract to supply computing resources to SpaceX, and help deliver internet service through its Starlink satellites. SpaceX will install ground stations at Google data centers that connect to SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. This has a massive implication for telcos as it could begin a disintermediation if datacenters’ traffic suddenly go satellite, denying them major revenue. The Google team said it clearly: “The real potential of this technology became very obvious. The power of combining cloud with universal secure connectivity, it’s a very powerful combination.”
Simply, there is no need for cell towers: customers’ devices will communicate to satellites, and then the satellites will link up to Google data centers. Microsoft Azure already has a partnership like this with SpaceX.
In SpaceX’s case, there is no need for cell towers. Instead, customers’ devices will communicate to satellites, and then the satellites will link up to Google data centers. Inside those data centers, customers can run applications quickly using Google’s cloud services, or they can send the information on to other companies’ services that are geographically nearby, enabling low latency so there’s minimal lag. Data then comes right back through the Google data centers to satellites, and then down to end users.
In July 2019, I wrote that “Amazon is unveiling a satellite broadband venture. Watch out, very soon, Amazon Prime members may be getting internet services at home from Amazon.” The highly popular Amazon Web Services will be connected to these satellites just as Google and SpaceX Starlink are planning now.
This is a massive one, from the FCC filing: “Amazon sells products and services to hundreds of millions of customers today via physical and online stores, entertainment content streaming, design and manufacturing of consumer electronics devices, and leading public cloud computing web services. Amazon also has global terrestrial networking and compute infrastructure required for the Kuiper System, including intercontinental fiber links, data centers, compute/edge compute capabilities and the tools, techniques, and know-how to securely and efficiently transport data.”
If you look at this critically, the world’s leading cloud computing providers have major satellite plays. And if they execute as they plan, from datacenters to datacenters, GSM providers like MTN, Glo and Airtel may struggle as I expect them to experiment heavily in Africa due to our challenging rural connectivity issues. As this happens, for customers, the future looks amazing because quality will improve even as price drops, and it will lead to a new age of connectivity, and advancement in rural economies.
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