The first four of 12 satellites in a new constellation to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to people in nearly 180 “under-connected” countries, will be shot into space on Tuesday, the project’s developers said.
The orbiters, part of a project dubbed O3b for the “other 3 billion” people with restricted Internet access, will be lifted by a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kourou in French Guiana at 1854 GMT.
“We are very close to launching a network that has the potential to change lives in very tangible ways and that is a tremendous feeling,” O3b Networks chief technical officer Brian Holz said in a statement.
The project was born from the frustrations of Internet pioneer Greg Wyler with the inadequacy of Rwanda’s telecommunications network, while travelling there in 2007.
“Access to the Internet backbone is still severely limited in emerging markets,” Wyler said in unveiling the O3b venture in 2008—promising multi-gigabit Internet speeds to countries “whether landlocked in Africa or isolated by water in the Pacific Islands”.
“Only when emerging markets achieve affordable and ubiquitous access to the rest of the world will we observe locally generated content, widespread e-learning, telemedicine and many more enablers to social and economic growth, which reflect the true value of the Internet,” he said.
Wyler’s plan was to bypass costly ground-based infrastructure like fibre-optics or cables by deploying a constellation of small satellites around the equator to serve as a spatial relay between users and the world wide web using only satellite dishes.
Such a system would cover a region between the latitudes of 45 degrees North and 45 degrees South—the entire African continent, most of Latin America, the Middle East, southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Read more at: Phys.org