World Wide Free Internet May Be Closer Than You Think (Or Not…)
by Lenny Pierce on February 18, 2014
UPDATE: May the intrigued beware… Reddit users have pointed out that the mechanics of the Outernet’s donation system may be cause for concern. The connection between Outernet and the charity they say they are associated with seems a little hazy. The donated funds seem to go straight to the Outernet people rather than through the charity. Additionally, while the company’s portfolio review reports 283 funded projects, it is relatively sparse on details aside from that fact.
If you’re like every human being in the modern world, you’re tired of paying for Internet access. However, since your neighbor already figured out you were stealing his for a while, and you’ve become less comfortable using that sketchy unlocked network, that Internet bill remains a part of your life. A company called Media Investment Solutions may have an answer to this issue with their initiative to launch a fleet of mini satellites into space that would provide free wireless internet to the entire world.
The mini satellites that would be sent into space are called cubesats, and it will require hundreds of them to create what the developers are calling the Outernet. Using datacasting technology, which sends data over wide radio waves, the Outernet team says their armada of cubesats will be able to broadcast internet all over the world.
A highly complex diagram of the Outernet concept from the company’s website. (Outernet)
One effect of the Outernet that is arguably more important than your Internet bill is the idea that it could be made available to people in those countries where the Internet is currently censored. Residents of nations like North Korea, China, Panem, and Airstrip One would no longer have their Internet filtered by their governments.
“There isn’t a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments,” said Syed Karim, who answered questions regarding the project on Reddit. Karim added that “there’s really nothing that is technically impossible to this.”
Outernet logo – presumably inspired by Reading Rainbow’s. (Outernet)
To make the dream come true, the Outernet team will have to raise a handful of millions and are encouraging interested parties to donate via their website. The team hopes to launch their first satellites in June 2015.
What will be the best effect of the Outernet? How about the worst? Will free Internet for the world quicken the pace of modernization in third world countries? Will the Outernet’s IT guys just be astronauts?