SpaceX founder Elon Musk has announced that he intends to provide high-speed Internet from space.
Internet provided from space would bring connectivity to even the most remote corners of the globe and enable currently disconnected groups of the population to get online. Benjamin Snyder of Time reports that the ambitious project would rely on a network of satellites launched by a SpaceX rocket.
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Ambitious plan would move SpaceX into telecoms market
Musk seemingly has his heart set on turning SpaceX into something bigger than one of the world’s most visionary private space companies. A recent report claims that Musk has been discussing the scheme with the federal government, in order to gain permission to launch 4,000 satellites into orbit around Earth.
The satellites would be used to beam Internet signals back to Earth, and the ambitious plan would catapult SpaceX into an entirely new field, putting it into competition with established telecoms players like Comcast and AT&T.
According to the report, Musk claims that the project “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space.” The plan is not the first to propose that Internet be provided from space. In the 1990s Bill Gates dreamed up a similar idea, while Richard Branson’s Virgin is currently working on its own version of the plan. Just recently, Facebook postponed a proposed project to build a $500 million Internet satellite.
Encouraging signs for satellite internet
Musk apparently believes that the idea is a good one, and a recent FCC filing reveals that he plans to start testing the satellite initiative next year.
“Some people might say the idea of satellite broadband has come and gone. But the cost structure of the business is so much better than when Bill Gates tried it,” said Paul Gallant, an analyst at Guggenheim Partners, speaking to the Washington Post. “I think Musk’s track record of disruptive innovation would make this a really attractive business for the .?.?. FCC to support.”
According to the Post, the project has caught the eye of both Google and Fidelity, who have invested in SpaceX to the tune of $1 billion, some of which is to be used specifically for the Internet project.
Should the project prove to be successful, we could soon see satellite internet which is cheaper and faster than that provided by existing technology.