Free wifi to the world from space

Friday, 28 February 2014 - 9:06pm IST | Agency: dna Shadow Editorial Board

A non-profit organization based in New York called Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) has announced the "Outernet" project which will give free Internet access to all, regardless of where on this planet they are.

There are more computing devices in the world than people, yet less than 40% of the global population has access to the wealth of knowledge found on 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 aims to change this.

Outernet consists of a constellation of low-cost, miniature satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Each satellite receives data streams from a network of ground stations and transmits that data in a continuous loop until new content is received. In order to serve the widest possible audience, the entire constellation utilizes globally-accepted, standards-based protocols, such as DVBDigital Radio Mondiale, and UDP-based WiFi multicasting.

“We are excited to incubate such a revolutionary project,” said MDIF CEO Harlan Mandel. “Outernet will bypass censorship, ensure privacy and offer worldwide access to information to everyone, including those who today are beyond the geographic reach of the internet or can’t afford it.”

“Outernet is the modern version of shortwave radio,” said founder Mr. Karim. “It uses leading-edge technology to address a deep social problem. As the world moves towards a global knowledge-driven economy, more than 3 billion people are excluded by cost, geography or jurisdiction. Outernet will increase opportunities for everyone to access digital news and information, allowing greater access to opportunity and education than anything that currently exists.”

Outernet for now will be one way, data will flow from feeders to the satellites which will broadcast to all.MDIF plans to add the ability to transmit from anywhere once funds become available.
Building such a network is fairly expensive. The satellites in question run up costs from $100,000 to $300,000 to build and launch.


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