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Ambitious 'Outernet' could bring unfettered Internet access worldwide via mini satellites

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
A New York-based firm has a bold idea that could bring the Web to regions of the world where Internet access is either too costly to deploy using traditional methods, or is censored at the behest of government regimes.

CubeSat
Artist's concept of the Intelligent Payload Experiment (IPEX) and M-Cubed/COVE-2, two NASA CubeSats launched in December.
Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Incubated by the non-profit Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), the ambitious project looks to bring the Web to every person on earth through a constellation of so-called cubesats, reports the UK's Daily Mail If all goes to plan, by 2015 hundreds of these mini satellites will be sprinkled in Low Earth Orbit to create the "Outernet," a free-to-access system that will let users from the U.S. to North Korea hop on the Web.

According to MDIF, only 60 percent of the world's population have unlimited access to the Internet; Outernet would address the remaining 40 percent.

As stated on the company's website, Outernet would use datacasting technology to stream Web content down to earth. Specifically, DVB, Digital Radio Mondiale, and UDP-based WiFi multicasting would be used to transmit data received from ground stations to other locales in a continuous loop until new data is received.

The initial iteration would be a uni-directional broadcast system in which users can access certain websites associated to Outercast's website. Future implementations would seek two-way communication -- an operation more akin to a modern Web browser -- though the goal is years out.

First, Outernet has to navigate a number of obstacles to get up and running, not the least of which is raising "tens of millions" of dollars in funding. The project also faces extreme resistance from telecoms, the traditional gatekeepers of the Internet. However, the team feels confident that it can and will raise the requisite funds and defeat opposition from global telcos.

After finding financial backing, Outernet plans to ask NASA's permission to test its datacasting technology on the International Space Station. If that goes well, the company's cubesats could start launching as soon as June 2015.

Those interested in contributing to the initiative can visit Outernet.is for more information.
post #2 of 31
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post #3 of 31

Behold; Skynet

post #4 of 31
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
According to MDIF, only 60 percent of the world's population have unlimited access to the Internet; Outernet would address the remaining 40 percent.


Really? Only 40% has ISPs that throttle and cap their connections? Seems like it’d be higher… :grumble:

 
If that goes well, the company's cubesats could start launching as soon as June 2015.

 

I don’t remember… What was the minimum lag time for a satellite-based Internet service? 800ms? 

Originally posted by Marvin

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Originally posted by Marvin

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post #5 of 31
Ballsy.
post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 


Really? Only 40% has ISPs that throttle and cap their connections? Seems like it’d be higher… :grumble:

 

 

I read that as on 60% has reliable, full-time, uncensored access vs. unreliable, occasional, and censored or none at all. 

post #7 of 31

Will this be limited to the Cube Browser

post #8 of 31
Why this? There's more promise in mesh networks. They operate like P2P networks.

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post #9 of 31
Sounds like a diplomatic nightmare waiting to happen
post #10 of 31

Brilliant! Let's spend billions of dollars to provide internet to people who can't pay us. Where is step three?

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post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emes View Post
 

Behold; Skynet

 

Behold; Iridium 2.0.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #12 of 31

How they appear on Earth:

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #13 of 31
Also, everyone gets a free pony for Christmas.
post #14 of 31

Similar mission as Loon.  I'm guessing Loon could be thwarted by governments as an 'airspace' violation.  What's the accepted practice and/or law on flying satellites over various countries?  China's just going to shoot these down if we try to impose a 'free and open' internet on them.

post #15 of 31
Originally Posted by Frood View Post
What's the accepted practice and/or law on flying satellites over various countries?  China's just going to shoot these down if we try to impose a 'free and open' internet on them.

 

Space isn’t owned by anyone, therefore nothing can be violated. China won’t touch a thing.

Originally posted by Marvin

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Originally posted by Marvin

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post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 
I don’t remember… What was the minimum lag time for a satellite-based Internet service? 800ms? 

 

You are thinking of geostationary satellites rather than low-earth-orbit. These are much closer (600 km vs 36000 km) and with a theoretical signal round trip of less than 5 ms the latency would probably be dominated by other parts of the network.

post #17 of 31
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

You are thinking of geostationary satellites rather than low-earth-orbit. These are much closer (600 km vs 36000 km) and with a theoretical signal round trip of less than 5 ms the latency would probably be dominated by other parts of the network.

 

Seems like they’ll need a ton more of these, then, than they would otherwise. Just what we need; more space junk.

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post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

You are thinking of geostationary satellites rather than low-earth-orbit. These are much closer (600 km vs 36000 km) and with a theoretical signal round trip of less than 5 ms the latency would probably be dominated by other parts of the network.

 

Seems like they’ll need a ton more of these, then, than they would otherwise. Just what we need; more space junk.

 

At least 150, apparently. Not a long term space junk problem though, since they will not last very long in that low an orbit.

post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Why this? There's more promise in mesh networks. They operate like P2P networks.

 

Because mesh networks require interconnectivity between client devices and we're talking about bringing the internet to places where there is either no such connectivity due to missing wired or wireless infrastructure or places where internet access and traffic is highly restricted by governments and/or other entities.

 

Imagine you're sitting somewhere in the Sahara desert... you probably won't find many cable connections or cell towers there. However, you can establish a satellite uplink almost anywhere, given the right equipment.

post #20 of 31
Wouldn't this cause security issues? I wouldn't really want to be on the same Wi-Fi network as all of the cyber criminals in the world.
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The project also faces extreme resistance from telecoms, the traditional gatekeepers of the Internet.

This is the real stumbling block.

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post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt2 View Post

Wouldn't this cause security issues? I wouldn't really want to be on the same Wi-Fi network as all of the cyber criminals in the world.

 

How do you feel about being on the same internet as them?  Much less secure than the uni-directional multicast network that is proposed here, which makes your concern the equivalent of worrying that criminals might be watching the same TV station that you are.

post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

How do you feel about being on the same internet as them?  Much less secure than the uni-directional multicast network that is proposed here, which makes your concern the equivalent of worrying that criminals might be watching the same TV station that you are.
LOL, nice comparison to TV stations.
This would be a great way to distribute media content to the world. Multicast TV and Movies with encryption and then just charge for the key. If the distribution is to a country like North Korea, you don't even have to worry about copyrights.
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by hentaiboy View Post

This is the real stumbling block.
They should launch from a different country like an island country or Russia. Why ask for permission?
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ash471 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

How do you feel about being on the same internet as them?  Much less secure than the uni-directional multicast network that is proposed here, which makes your concern the equivalent of worrying that criminals might be watching the same TV station that you are.
LOL, nice comparison to TV stations.
This would be a great way to distribute media content to the world. Multicast TV and Movies with encryption and then just charge for the key. If the distribution is to a country like North Korea, you don't even have to worry about copyrights.

 

Agreed, and that appears to be already part of their plan - at least the distribution. I've seen no word on charging for it yet.

post #26 of 31
So sad to think of so many people without advertising, dudes. It's a charitable cause!
post #27 of 31
More like it will start beaming transmissions worlds in rotations, such as:

OBEY, CONSUME, POPULATE%u2026OBEY, CONSUME, POPULATE%u2026OBEY, CONSUME, POPULATE%u2026
post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 


Really? Only 40% has ISPs that throttle and cap their connections? Seems like it’d be higher… :grumble:

 

I don’t remember… What was the minimum lag time for a satellite-based Internet service? 800ms? 


It seems more likely to refer to uncensored access, rather than bandwidth-uncapped access.

From Outernet.is

"By leveraging datacasting technology over a low-cost satellite constellation, Outernet is able to bypass censorship, ensure privacy, and offer a universally-accessible information service at no cost to global citizens. It's the modern version of shortwave radio, or BitTorrent from space."

As for lag times, if the americans can reliably drone shoot missiles on villagers and wedding halls halfway across the world, from their remote hiding holes, then that should seem good enough.

Nobody is going to play low-latency-requiring games on Outernet anyways, atleast initially. Most people like to do more important things.

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post #29 of 31
I think the whole idea sounds very good when you read the headline only. It becomes much less interesting when you read further.

It's basically broadcasting, not internet access. Think of what could be if you really had internet access that can't be blocked. Esp. regions that are heavily censored, or regions that are remote. Or regions devastated by natural disasters.

But what all of them need is internet, not a broadcast of sorts. Who will decide what is being broadcast. Better yet, who will decide what is broadcast to who? And why exactly would they want to listen to our programming.

I think the idea of a free internet, as the headline implies, would be a good one and I would have easily donated money to this.
post #30 of 31

I've been waiting for this. Coming next: servers in space. piratebay.org.orbit

 

"in space, nobody can hear you download"...

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post #31 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

Brilliant! Let's spend billions of dollars to provide internet to people who can't pay us. Where is step three?

 

Step 3. These people are able to dramatically improve their quality of life and participate in the global business market, giving them a chance of getting out of poverty without massive handouts.

 

That's what I read into it anyway. I don't think profit is the only real motive in the world.

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