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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,249member
    Borg Inc.
  • Reply 2 of 30
    emesemes Posts: 239member

    Behold; Skynet

  • Reply 3 of 30
    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? 

  • Reply 4 of 30
    bcodebcode Posts: 138member
    Ballsy.
  • Reply 5 of 30
    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. 

  • Reply 6 of 30

    Will this be limited to the Cube Browser

  • Reply 7 of 30
    Why this? There's more promise in mesh networks. They operate like P2P networks.
  • Reply 8 of 30
    Sounds like a diplomatic nightmare waiting to happen
  • Reply 9 of 30
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

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

  • Reply 10 of 30
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Emes View Post

     

    Behold; Skynet


     

    Behold; Iridium 2.0.

  • Reply 11 of 30

    How they appear on Earth:

  • Reply 12 of 30
    Also, everyone gets a free pony for Christmas.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    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.

  • Reply 14 of 30
    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.

  • Reply 15 of 30
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    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.

  • Reply 16 of 30
    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.

  • Reply 17 of 30
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    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.

  • Reply 18 of 30
    cyniccynic Posts: 124member
    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.

  • Reply 19 of 30
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    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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