SpaceX wants to blanket the Earth in high-speed internet


There are grand plans, and then there are grand plans.

Elon Musk seems to specialize in the latter, and his plan to launch more than 4,000 satellites into orbit around Earth is no exception. The goal is to bring internet service to all corners of the globe. Here are the details.

In IT Blogwatch, we wait for the go-ahead from ground control.

So what exactly is the plan here? Arjun Kharpal has the background:

Elon Musk's SpaceX wants to...provide super-fast global internet coverage...SpaceX...outlined plans to put 4,425 satellites into space in a Federal Communications Commission filing from earlier this week.
That's three times the 1,419 satellites that are currently in space...Reports...suggested Google and Fidelity had invested $1 billion into SpaceX to support the satellite project.

And how would this actually work? Irene Klotz has the details:

SpaceX...would begin with the launch of about 800 satellites to expand internet access in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands...SpaceX did not say when its launches would occur.
The satellites would be launched into orbits ranging from 714 miles to 823 miles...above Earth...Each satellite, about the size of an average car, not including solar panels, would weigh 850 pounds.

But how fast would this internet be? It's gotta be fast to be worth it, right? Dave Mosher is in the know:

SpaceX says each satellite could cover an ellipse about 1,300 miles (2,120 km) wide. That's about the distance from Maine to the Florida panhandle...SpaceX...satellites...will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1 Gbps per user).
The global average for internet speed in late 2015...was 5.1 Mbps per user — about 200 times slower than SpaceX's target...The satellites will last between 5 years and 7 years and decay within a year after that.

But SpaceX isn't the only company looking to provide planet-wide internet service, right? Alan Boyle fills us in:

SpaceX of several ventures aiming to deploy satellite-based internet services over the next few years. The others include OneWeb...and the Boeing Co., which envisions a low-Earth-orbit constellation with more than 1,000 satellites.
SpaceX still has to get approval...from the FCC as well as the International Telecommunication Union. The ITU filings are being made on SpaceX’s behalf by the U.S. government...and the Norwegian government.

Wondering why SpaceX wants to cover the globe with internet access? Tonya Riley has an idea:

Given SpaceX already has its hands full...building a colony on Mars, jumping into the internet game seems like an unexpected move. But...wireless internet could be a major boon to Tesla’s driverless cars. It could be that the satellites will fill the role of the...communications infrastructure required for the Mars colony to be a success. It really could just be a move to take over the...internet industry in the U.S. Regardless of deeper motives...the...plan has moved far past “speculation.”

So, is this a good idea? Bison Herder seems to think so:

Yes please. Put Comcast out of business.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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