Amazon Is Testing Its Own Massive Wireless Network

Senior Contributor
08.23.13 3 Comments


We buy a lot of things from Amazon. Video games, TV shows, books, gadgets. But we don’t get our wireless service from Amazon, or at least not from Amazon’s own network. This is something Amazon is looking to change.

Keep in mind, this isn’t just building some wifi hotspots and putting Amazon’s name on them. This is a full-fledged wireless system Amazon is testing:

The wireless network, which was tested in Cupertino, California, used spectrum controlled by satellite communications company Globalstar Inc. …That would let Amazon create a more comprehensive user experience, encompassing how consumers get online, what device they use to connect to the Web and what they do on the Internet.

Globalstar, by the way, is looking to turn 80% of the bandwidth they own into terrestrial spectrum. So if Amazon likes what it sees, or is just concerned that Google is going to take over the Internet before Jeff Bezos gets a chance to, there’s a real possibility that once Globalstar gets the nod, this could become a big deal, and fast.

Amazon has its fingers deeper in the Internet pie than you may at first think: It runs several major back-end web services, like online storage and computing, for major websites. And it’s not shy about paying for wireless service when it needs to, either; the higher-end Kindles have had free 3G web service for a while, since obviously it’s in Amazon’s interest to sell you books as often as possible.

And having a private wireless network would be in line with Amazon’s philosophy, lately. One of the issues that many have with the Kindle line, especially the Fire, is that even though it’s built on Android, you have to root it to make it a tablet instead of a streaming device, and in fact Amazon actively fights its users over rooting because God forbid somebody buys something on a tablet they own from a storefront that isn’t Amazon. It’s also why Amazon just won’t give up and create a streaming video app for Android.

That said, one hopes they pull back before tying everything to a nationwide Amazon network. One of the most appealing things about Amazon is that it’s platform agnostic; if Amazon tries to go Apple on us, that might reveal a chink in its armor.

(Image courtesy of Michael Kwan on Flickr)

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