While we seem to constantly complain about the lack of internet speed we have in South Africa, we at least can be thankful that we have connectivity. More than two thirds of the planet is still without connectivity of some sorts and this connectivity-gap problem has resulted in corporates looking for solutions to get the whole world “online”.
But how do you connect entire countries which spam thousands of kilometres across inaccessible terrain? The answer seems to come from above. Not in a heavenly-intervention-type of way, but by deploying objects in the sky that beam down connectivity.
Google is looking at Project Loon which a network of balloons and Facebook is looking at using solar powered drones, but a new proposal was recently revealed by Samsung.
Samsung would like to deploy a network of 4600 low-orbiting satellites to provide 5G internet connection to the five billions people who are not-connected.
Farooq Khan, the president of Samsung R&D in Texas, presented a paper titled “mobile internet from the heavens” where he outlines the issue:
Almost two-thirds of the humankind currently does not have access to the Internet, wired or wireless. We present a Space Internet proposal capable of providing Zetabyte/ month capacity which is equivalent to 200GB/month for 5 Billion users Worldwide. Our proposal is based on deploying thousands of low-cost micro-satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), each capable of providing Terabit/s data rates with signal latencies better than or equal to ground based systems.
Samsung’s view is that instead of sending satellites into high-space, satellites should be positioned into Low Orbital Path where the distance for data to be transferred between the satellite and earth is much shorter and therefore allows for greater data speeds – its all about latency. Once the network is deployed the data can be beamed between these unit and back down to earth where it is carried by the Fiber optic link. That’s a lot of tech involved to let you watch YouTube the next time you are hiking up the Drakensburg Mountains.
Regardless where in the world you happen to be, no mater how remote, you can always look up and see sky. Using space to provide not only data but also to augment cellular communication will also have an impact on those emergency rescue situation out in sea, or lost in deep forests where typically no cellular signal can reach.
With the way we are consuming data and demanding more of it everywhere, with autonomous cars and drones in our near future, we will certainly need the bandwidth and access more than ever before.
Check out this link for the full paper (PDF file)
*Headline image from Shutterstock.com