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Could satellites soon bring the internet to the whole world and for free?

Could satellites soon bring the internet to the whole world and for free?

The Internet Is Outdated, So Welcome to the Outernet

While everybody is getting excited about wearables as the latest techno-wizardry, or even smart clothes they are focussing on those areas of kit because they think the progress of the basic internet is now settled.

It’s like electricity. It’s here to stay and will not change much now.

They should look at the Outernet, then, because that actually could be the next big, big evolution.

Free Outernet Across the Globe

According to the Daily Mail science pages (5 February 2014), the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is poised to give everyone on earth FREE internet access.

By the middle of next year they aim to have launched ‘constellations’ of hundreds of low-cost miniature satellites called ‘cubesats’ into low earth orbit which will bring the open net to every country, including those that currently attempt to censor it, such as North Korea and China.

The New York company reckons that the technology is not that difficult. ‘Datacasting technology’ sends data received from a network of ground stations over wide radio waves and they’re asking for billions of dollars from well-wishers to get it off the ground.

Public Altruism

They cite Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Their belief is that while ‘there are more computing devices in the world than people’ still only 60% of the populace currently can access the web. That’s a lot of people who cannot drink in the fountains of knowledge that flow from the open internet.

Or as they put it, ‘4 billion additional participants in the global marketplace of ideas. Imagine the avalanche of creativity, innovation and invention…’

With the cost of infrastructure and an unwillingness in some lands to give people the net, there is a huge need they want to meet. The price of devices is declining; the price of data is rising, hitting deprived, rural and hard-to-reach areas particularly.

They want to utilise User Datagram Protocol (UDP) to share data across users on a network with it beamed by Outernet. Much like flipping through TV channels, users will be able to search through websites.

They may sound rather disingenuous, but are aware that certain telecoms operators may try to stifle the project at birth. They haven’t publicly worried about the skies already future-littered with drones but that may not be a problem. Outernet sound determined and are hoping to test their technology on the International Space Station.

Listen to the Hype

From their website they say:

‘Unrestricted, globally accessible, broadcast data.
Quality content from all over the Internet.
Available to all of humanity.
For free.
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.’
Clearly, when they say the system will provide ‘a global notification system during emergencies and natural disasters’, they may be right. It could prover far more effective in those circumstances than even social media has so far.

Ultimately it will erode national, geographical, political and cultural boundaries even more than digital technology has done already. That may be a good thing ….

Or am I alone in fearing it will soon be hijacked by the advertising industry?

You could also look at:

Computer Grids Could Unlock Power to Benefit Mankind, 10 September 2013

Open Data Is Bigger Than Big Data Once It’s Released, 4 February 2014

Watch Out, There’s a Drone About and It’s Bringing Ethical Dilemmas Galore, 2 September 2013

If More Data Sharing Is the Answer, What is the Question? 29 April 2013

When Campaigning for Web Freedom Gets Real, Dirty and Personal, 11 February 2013

Policing the Internet: Everybody Wants to Do It, Nobody Will, 10 October 2012

The Web of One May Not Be Desirable After All, 15 February 2012

The ‘Net Generation’ v ‘Silver Surfers’ Myth, 16 May 2012