Rival Space Internets Vie For Sky Pie




This is Scientific American's 60-Second Tech. I'm Larry Greenemeier. Got a minute?
About half the world's population doesn't have access to the Internet.
Now two prominent entrepreneurs say they'll address the tech issues contributing to this digital divide.
SpaceX's Elon Musk wants to launch a new $15 billion constellation of mini communications satellites into near-Earth orbit to provide fast, low-cost and more comprehensive global Internet coverage.
Communications satellites generally operate from geosynchronous orbit some 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface.
The Musk satellites would transfer data packets only 750 miles up, through the planet's exosphere, rather than via a tangle of terrestrial networks.
If successful, the new network could rival fiber optic cable service speeds and be available in currently poorly served areas.
That is, if rival tech mogul Greg Wyler doesn't get there first, with his OneWeb venture.
Wyler appears to have a leg up with his proposed 648-micro satellite network:
he claims to own access to the spectrum frequency needed to communicate in low-earth Orbit.
Internet satellite ventures do not have a good track record and it's not clear that there's room for two distinct networks.
The bet here is that that two billionaires eventually team up and divide the pie in the sky.
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American's 60-Second Tech. I'm Larry Greenemeier.