February 17, 2014
New Project Aims To Offer Free Global WiFi Service From Outer Space
[ Watch the Video: Outernet Would Provide Wi-Fi From Space ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A project being incubated by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) has ambitious plans to beam WiFi to everyone on the planet for free.
The organizations says that it is planning a project called “Outernet,” which will utilize a satellite constellation to make Internet universally-accessible and for no cost.
Outernet says on its site that there are more computing devices in the world than people, but only 60 percent of the world has access to the Internet.
“The price of smartphones and tablets is dropping year after year, but the price of data in many parts of the world continues to be unaffordable for the majority of global citizens. In some places, such as rural areas and remote regions, cell towers and Internet cables simply don't exist,” Outernet says on its site. “The primary objective of the Outernet is to bridge the global information divide.”
The organization says that giving access to the knowledge the Internet has to offer is a human right, so it is guaranteeing this right by taking a practical approach to information delivery. The plan is to transmit a signal to mobile devices, antennae and satellite dishes, allowing people to access basic levels of new, information, education and entertainment.
Essentially the beginning of the project will see to it that these devices will be able to access some of this basic information for free. Eventually, Outernet says it will be providing two-way Internet access for free, meaning not only will it be allowing everyone to download this useful data, but they will be able to use this global WiFi service to upload things as well.
Outernet will consist of hundreds of low-cost, miniature satellites in Low Earth Orbit, each of which will be receiving data streams from a network of ground stations. These satellites will be transmitting the data in a continuous loop until new content is received.
The organization said that its entire constellation will be using globally-accepted standards-based protocols like DVB, Digital Radio Mondiale, and UDP-based WiFi multicasting.
“Citizens from all over the world, through SMS and feature-phone apps, participate in building the information priority list,” the organization wrote. “Users of Outernet's website also make suggestions for content to broadcast; lack of an Internet connection should not prevent anyone from learning about current events, trending topics, and innovative ideas.”
In June, the organization plans to develop prototype satellites and test out a long range of WiFi multicasting. A few months later Outernet will begin transmission testing in flight-like environments. The launch and testing of constellation operations is expected to begin by next January.
Outernet is asking for contributions to the project of any size, which will all be 100 percent tax-deductible.
Image 2 (Below): Outernet