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Women and children queue up under the scorching heat of the midday sun, distaste and frustration piling up around them as they hope to replenish those empty buckets with proper drinking water at the local handpump. The village is not without its own water supply, mind you, but the muddy, polluted water is scarcely enough to saturate the thirst of an honest worker. Therefore they stand, for hours and hours under the searing heat of the midday sun, keen to help their husbands and fathers to a glass of cold drinking water as they come home from a hard day’s work. As we sit on fluffy couches in our air-conditioned rooms in the urban upstate, it is easy to take for granted the lives we live, the gifts we have. But if there’s one thing my time in India has taught me, it’s how small and inconsequential the life of a humble private citizen can be in the wake of overwhelming corporate and political interests.

 

It is hard to think about internet access when the very question of healthy drinking water is at stake, after all, we need to get our priorities straight. But if there is one thing the internet does really well, it is to open up opportunities for the rural and urban poor struggling to make a living in a difficult economy. Teach a man to fish, and all that. Either that, or plain old urban glamor, is what motivates the likes of Facebook and SpaceX in their quest to make the internet universally accessible, and they are not unwilling to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom when it comes to making good on their plans.

“The internet is a vast pool of opportunities. Tapping into it can help find employment and a source of earning for many people across the world. It can also foster the cause of globalization and help the international economy prosper as a whole.” - Alex Jasin, X3 Digital

We got a good glimpse of how crucial connectivity is going to be for company’s plans in the next coming years over at Facebook’s F8. Mark Zuckerberg acquainted us with his ambitious plans to roll connectivity solutions to the far and distant corners of the earth that still don’t have internet access, and in doing so, bring the 3 billion people of the world who are yet to have an internet connection, into the mainstream. These plans come in three segments. The first is Project Acquila, that aims to make use of solar-powered drones to beam the internet on to rural and urban areas from the stratosphere. With Aquila, Facebook has already managed to set a record with its millimeter-wave radio technology, which can beam down 36 Gbps of internet connections from a distance of up to ten kilometers. Acquila still has ways to go, however, as its massive unmanned aircraft crashed into a pile of dust and hubris in the Arizona desert, shortly after setting aforementioned record.

While the Aquila drones project is aimed at assuring connectivity to far-off rural areas, Facebook’s Terragraph initiative aims at supplying decent internet connections in dense urban areas. The problems suffered in these two scenarios are very different, as the severe lags suffered in urban area internet connections are mostly due to huge amounts of traffic and so-called dead zones. Terragraph aims at solving these problems by using better quality fibres to eliminate dead zones and improve internet capacity, using the same millimeter radio wave technology that fuels Aquila.

“There are just so many people out there in the real world that deserve mainstream attention and real recognizance for their work. Universalizing the internet can help bring these people into the spotlight.” - Jeff Smith, Infuence.co

The third and final of Facebook’s connectivity initiatives is tether-tenna, which is supposed to help provide temporary internet connectivity during emergency situations. The tether-tenna is a miniature helicopter drone that can be connected to a fibre line and then launched up to a few hundred feet above ground to work as a temporary tower. It will be particularly useful in case of an emergency situation or catastrophe, when immediate access to the internet is required.

While Facebook goes all in on its effort to globalize the internet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has his own plans of propagating the world wide web. In November 2016, Elon Musk filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission, asking for permission to launch 4,425 satellites that would help beam high-speed internet facilities onto various parts of the world from space. The initiative, which Musk says may cost around $10bn, is said to begin launching its satellites in 2019, with at least one prototype sent into space later this year, according to Patricia Cooper, Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs for SpaceX.

“As a great equalizer, the Internet provide access to communications, information and opportunity. A lot of businesses in the outsourcing sector would not be possible without Internet technologies such as VoIP and eCommerce.” - William Emmanuel Yu, Quora

Elon Musk isn’t the first person on the planet to take a gander at such a satellite internet programs, similar initiatives by the likes of HughesNet and Exede have since long been in play, but he is the first person to be doing it at this scale. As of this moment, there are 4,256 satellites orbiting the earth, only 1,419 of which remain functional. Musk’s plans involve not only setting a record in satellite launches to space, they also aim to wrap the whole world in a mesh of internet connectivity in the process.

While Musk’s plans may seem outlandish, and Zuckerberg’s at least ambitious, we cannot really expect to bring the internet to the whole world without setting some records and breaking some existing ones. The internet opens up a web of opportunities for the rural and urban dwellers of underdeveloped and developing countries, giving them a chance at improving a stagnant economy and raising their own living standards in the process. While the projects are massive and nothing is certain, there is one thing I am confident about. To delegate this much of responsibility on to the hands of corporate giants we know little about, we must really trust Musk and Zuckerberg to keep true to their promises.

 

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Harold Stark

Categorized in Social

SpaceX has announced plans to launch over four thousand satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide the world with super-fast internet, according to a recent regulatory filing.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk's SpaceX company outlined plans to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create global broadband network by launching 4,425 satellites into space. The first deployment will entail 800 satellites, intended only for connectivity in the US. The global remainder will be launched at a later date. Currently, some 1,400 satellites orbit the Earth, in varying stages of usefulness and repair.

"With deployment of the first 800 satellites, the system will be able to provide US and international broadband connectivity; when fully deployed, the system will add capacity and availability at the equator and poles for truly global coverage," SpaceX said.

The company has not announced a concrete date for its initial launch, but mentioned 2019 as a possibility.

SpaceX broadband satellites will weigh 386 kg each, and be about the size of a small car, making them smaller than existing telecommunications orbital platforms. They will also have a shallower orbit and are expected to have a service life of five to ten years.

 

"The SpaceX non-geostationary orbit (‘NGSO') satellite system (the ‘SpaceX System') consists of a constellation of 4,425 satellites (plus in-orbit spares) operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km), as well as associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations and end user earth stations," SpaceX wrote in its FCC filing.

The company detailed that the orbiting broadband network will reduce signal latency and dramatically improve bandwidth.

"Once fully optimized through the Final Deployment, the system will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1Gbps per user), low-latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the US and globally," SpaceX wrote. "Subject to additional development work, SpaceX plans to design and manufacture its own satellites, gateway earth stations, and user terminals." Home internet customers would receive a "low-profile user terminal that is easy to mount and operate on walls or roofs."

If the ambitious SpaceX plan is realized, it would expand high-speed internet coverage globally, and greatly improve internet in rural areas that need it most.

Author:  Tech

Source:  https://sputniknews.com

Categorized in Internet Technology

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