Forget Facebook’s solar drones or Google’s high-flying balloons, SpaceX wants to serve up internet from somewhere even higher: space. According to BBC, SpaceX recently filed paperwork with the FCC to launch an entire network of satellites that beam internet connectivity back down to earth. We’ve come so far since AOL dial-up.
The difference between SpaceX’s option and existing satellite-internet solutions is that SpaceX hopes to cover the globe with service, not just a single country or a specific region, which is typical of most providers. ViaSat’s Exede satellite broadband connections, for example, are already available to air travelers looking for Wi-Fi connections on JetBlue, Virgin America and United in the US (United also still employs Gogo.) SpaceX also isn’t alone in its efforts to cover a larger area. As the BBC notes, Boeing and other firms are working to launch similar services that could be used by private and public institutions alike.
A web of more than 4,000 satellites
“Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,” SpaceX explained. That means you might be traveling on a flight from the United States to South America, for example, and have Wi-Fi the whole time. Similar experiences are already offered between the United States and Europe. Or, perhaps, you buy a global internet connection for your employees, allowing them to use broadband no matter where they are in the world.
The BBC said SpaceX is calling for 4,425 satellites that will orbit the earth from between 689 miles and 823 miles from earth, creating a mesh network of satellites capable of beaming connectivity down to the earth below. While FCC has already filed early paperwork, the BBC said a launch may not occur “until the turn of the decade.”
At least we can count on Wi-Fi in our spaceships.