What Is Outernet?
In previous articles we’ve discussed the impact of the FCC bringing broadband to rural areas and the ideas behind Net Neutrality. In the vein of both, we enter into a new topic which is satellite internet service, or Outernet. Brought to us by the Media Development Investment Fund, it promises to bring wireless satellite internet to the world at large using small sub-orbit satellites called cubesats. Like other service providers, Outernet will communicate with the surface to access particular content providers such as Wikipedia, news outlets and some games and video providers. Working with NASA and the International Space Station, the company plans to test the long term effectiveness and data transfers in the space station. The company hopes to have the first building blocks of the network up and running by 2015 with satellites being launched during the later half of 2014.
The idea is to have hundreds of these cubesats floating around in the atmosphere, freely beaming the contents of the internet worldwide using datacasting or broadcasting data over a wide area via radio waves. With ground stations across the globe to feed the satellites, the organization plans to give access to certain websites and content globally. What could this mean for places where the internet at large is censored, like China? With a global wireless network, there is no real way to censor what gets brought up as far as news, wiki-sites or media. Much like a TV signal allows you to flick through the channels, you will be able to flick through the websites provided. Amid concerns of censorship is, as always, security. With the information being freely sent out across the globe, could a hack happen somewhere along the stream outside of the usual DNS, Content Server, end user pathway? The only real hitch in this whole plan seems to be the fact that “big data” and other established internet service providers are trying to shut the whole project down. However, the main proponent has said they will fight the good fight.
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