Free Wi-Fi From Outer Space
This article originally appeared in TV Technology.
Imagine pointing an antenna to the sky and pulling down a variety of content from a constellation of LEO (Low Earth Orbiting) cubesats. That’s the goal of Outernet, whose motto is “Information for the world from outer space.”
Outernet’s website says: “By leveraging datacasting technology over a low-cost satellite constellation, Outernet is able to bypass censorship, ensure privacy, and offer a universally-accessible information service at no cost to global citizens. It’s the modern version of shortwave radio, or BitTorrent from space.”
Outernet provides few technical details on how this constellation will work. The website explains: “Outernet consists of a constellation of hundreds of low-cost, miniature satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Each satellite receives data streams from a network of ground stations and transmits that data in a continuous loop until new content is received. In order to serve the widest possible audience, the entire constellation utilizes globally-accepted, standards-based protocols, such as DVB, Digital Radio Mondiale and UDP-based Wi-Fi multicasting.” The project also has an aggressive timeline.
The website notes that development of prototype satellite and testing of long range Wi-Fi multicasting is scheduled for this June, with transmission testing in flight-like environments (Outernet is requesting time on the International Space Station) is set for September. Launch and test of constellation operations is supposed to begin next January. By April 2015, Outernet hopes to establish a manufacturing process for turning out the hundreds of satellite needed, with deployment of Outernet supposed to happen in mid-2015, subject to launch schedules.
To find out more about this interesting project and learn about the content it intends to put on the satellites, see https://www.outernet.is/.