WASHINGTON — Amazon Web Services has slowed the rollout of its ground station network to accommodate customer feedback about the best locations to place its antennas.
AWS has built ground stations at six locations instead of the 12 that were expected by the end of last year. Shayn Hawthorne, general manager of AWS’s ground station business, said the company realized customers wanted ground stations in different locations than AWS had originally anticipated.
“We originally had our plan for where we wanted to go, but as we started to engage more and more with customers, we had customers who wanted us to get as far north as we could,” he said, which led to a ground station built in Stockholm, Sweden, where polar-orbiting satellites could quickly see the antennas.
Customer demand drove decisions to build ground stations in Bahrain and Australia, he said. AWS’s other ground stations are in Oregon and Ohio (the company’s first two sites), and Dublin, Ireland, where AWS wanted to establish a European Union presence, Hawthorne said.
AWS still plans to build 12 ground stations, and potentially more, but is deciding on many of the future sites with customers, Hawthorne said.
“As you continue to see more ground stations launched in the future, you’re going to see that many of them are going to be coming along with a customer request or use case that drove those sites to be prioritized over others,” he said.
Hawthorne declined to name future locations beyond that one will be a “high latitude site” starting service later this year.
“We have more regions coming soon this year and we’ll keep building into the future because of customer demands and the capacity required to meet their needs,” he said.
Each AWS Ground Station site has two antennas, he said, one in X-band that can download gigabits of data from remote sensing and telecommunications satellites, and one in S-band for spacecraft command and control functions. All of the company’s sites so far have been built near AWS data centers to ease connections to Amazon’s cloud services, he said.
AWS Ground Station services are only available in connection with the AWS cloud, Hawthorne said. Customers who want to use other cloud services can download their satellite data off of AWS and then use a different cloud, he said, but cannot connect an AWS ground station directly to a cloud competitor like Google.
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