February 25, 2014

US company to beam free wi-fi to entire world from space

A US company is planning to build an 'Outernet - a global network of cube satellites broadcasting Internet data to all the people on the planet - for free.
The idea is to offer free Internet access to all people, regardless of location, bypassing filtering or other means of censorship, according to the New York based non-profit organisation, Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF). MDIF proposes that hundreds of cube satellites be built and launched to create a constellation of sorts in the sky, allowing anyone with a phone or computer to access Internet data sent to the satellites by several hundred ground stations.
The organisation claims that 40 per cent of the people in the world today are still not able to connect to the Internet - and it's not just because of restrictive governments such as North Korea - it's also due to the high cost of bringing service to remote areas, 'phys.org' reported. An Outernet would allow people from Siberia to parts of the western US to remote islands or villages in Africa to receive the same news as those in New York or Tokyo. The Outernet would be one-way - data would flow from feeders to the satellites which would broadcast to all below.  MDIF plans to add the ability to transmit from anywhere as well as soon as funds become available.
MDIF has acknowledged that building such a network would not be cheap. Such satellites typically run USD 100,000 to USD 300,000 to build and launch. The timeline for the project calls for deploying the initial cubesats as early as next summer.
Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is a New York-registered non-profit corporation and investment fund that provides low-cost financing to independent news media in countries with a history of media oppression. It works with newspapers, radio stations, and TV companies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the CIS, and the Balkans. It was originally founded as the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) before changing its name in 2013. Through low-cost capital (mainly loans), business training and other advice and support, it aims to help news outlets committed to responsible journalism become commercially sustainable, believing that only financially independent news media can stay editorially independent over the long term.
MDIF was founded in 1995 by Saša Vučinić and Stuart Auerbach, the late Washington Post reporter and editor. Previously Vučinić was editor-in-chief and general manager of B92 radio in Belgrade when, in the early 1990s, the station started to experience financial problems caused by government interference. Witnessing freedom of speech slowly slip away partly due to a lack of economic security, Vučinić had the idea of creating an organization that would provide independent media with access to capital. The idea was pitched to George Soros, who provided the initial grant for MDIF's start-up.