How is it possible Internet for everyone?

How is it possible Internet for everyone?


We can’t seem to live without the internet (how else would you read sciencefocus.com?), but still only around half the world’s population is connected. There are many reasons for this, including economic and social reasons, but for some the internet just isn’t accessible because they have no connection.Google is slowly trying to solve the problem using helium balloons to beam the internet to inaccessible areas, while Facebook has abandoned plans to do the same using drones, which means companies like Hiber are stealing a march. They have taken a different approach by launching their own network of shoebox-sized microsatellites into low Earth orbit, which wake up a modem plugged into your computer or device when it flies over and delivers your data.

Their satellites orbit the Earth 16 times a day and are already being used by organisations like The British Antarctic Survey to provide internet access to very extreme of our planet.

The benefits of satellite internet are obvious in places where land-based network infrastructure doesn’t exist. But while systems based on high-orbit satellites need only minimal ground equipment to reach remote places, a range of complications – including cost, speed and performance – prevent them from being a global solution. LEO systems aim to get past the problems by getting closer to earth.
The prospect of a truly global internet is alluring, not just to those driven by altruism, but also to internet companies who’d love more customers (Facebook among them). That’s helping efforts to create LEO satellite networks gather steam.


Even with these technological advances, cost is a huge concern. Getting fleets of satellites in the sky won’t be cheap. Here are a few things LEO internet operators and advocates say they have going for them:

  • More affordable satellites and launches. OneWeb and its manufacturing partner Airbus say their satellites cost a relatively affordable $1 million each, while a single launch of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket is estimated to cost $36.7 million.. That’s a bargain, considering a single satellite launch using traditional methods can cost as much as $400 million.

  • Tolerance of failure. Space X founder Elon Musk says that in a constellation of thousands, the failure of a few satellites isn’t as important, since the other satellites will route around them. The increased tolerance of failure lowers manufacturing costs.

  • Cost-effective “pizza boxes.” The consumer ground stations needed to receive the signals are inexpensive, easy to install and small enough to be nicknamed “pizza boxes” because that’s what they resemble.
Fiber investment and undersea cables: We can expect to see more projects like Google Fiber, which promises to deliver gigabit speeds at reasonable prices, and the construction of massive new undersea cables that dramatically increase the transmission capability of networks.
Cheap smartphones and mobile data plans: These will soon expand the Internet's footprint by billions of people, especially in parts of the world where wired networks have not been fully built out.
Imagine if your internet was ten times faster, ten times cheaper, and accessible anywhere — even Mars, if an interplanetary journey strikes your fancy.
Current internet infrastructures fail to connect 4.4 billion people worldwide, and frustrated consumers want to know: “when will the future finally get here?”
The answer, according to a few rogue entrepreneurs and scientists, is “sooner than you think.”
From grassroots wireless mesh systems on the ground to high-tech satellites in low-earth orbit, we’ve rounded up the strongest contenders promising to bring internet out of the phone lines and into the future. No harm in dreaming…

1. WIRELESS MESH:


Wireless mesh works by using distributed groups of “nodes” — radio transmitters, bluetooth devices, etc. — to create a smaller, self-contained version of the internet. The locals call it Snet, for “streetnet.”

It may not connect to Netflix or anything else on the mainstream internet, but it’s perfectly functional for day-to-day needs like communication and file sharing.

The dependance of mesh networks like Snet on individual devices rather than centralized service providers mean that the network grows stronger the more people use it, as well as make it difficult to shut down forcibly. Doing so would require finding and disabling every single device, and an established mesh employs hundreds to thousands of them.

This durability makes wireless mesh particularly useful in situations where the government is likely to discourage organization via social networks like Twitter, as in the protests in Egypt in 2011.  Mesh networks are also far more resilient to natural disasters.

2. SOLAR-POWERED DRONES


Although internet.org plans to partner with local ISPs in service areas rather than market to users directly, the program as a whole has faced some backlash from net neutrality advocates. As a workaround for providing the service to low-income users at dramatically lower costs than traditional internet connections, the organization provides what critics call a “walled garden” version of the internet, where high bandwidth services are unavailable.

3. GOOGLE LOON

If the notion of Wi-Fi drones isn’t wild enough for you, consider what Google has to offer: giant balloons broadcasting internet from the edge of space.

Google is currently improving the technology and forging partnerships with telecommunication companies.

4. SATELLITE INTERNET

Humanitarians aren’t the only ones looking to connect the rest of the world; the potential for low-orbit satellites to provide broadband speeds on a global scale is currently the subject of an arms race between Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s OneWeb.

Both companies want to get to space, and both see winning the ISP game as a way to fund it. If they work, low-orbit satellites could solve many of the problems with terrestrial and fixed satellite internet connections, blanketing the world in fast, cheap, weather-proof wireless.Musk has claimed that the network would not only be profitable, but also provide the communication services needed for his goal of setting up a colony on Mars. That said, he also cites a discouraging price tag and time frame: $10 billion and 5+ years.

5. QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT

Quantum units, however, are a little hairier: each base unit, or photon, can be both a “zero” and a “one” at the same time. Due to a quirk of nature, the act of measuring a photon determines its state, forcing it to “choose” between zero and one. (Well, they’re actually settling on differing “spin states,” but we’ll just call it zeros and ones for the sake of explanation.)

 This matters for your internet connection because physicists have recently proven the possibility of linking photons in such a way that the state of one will determine the state of its twin — over distances as long as 1.3 kilometers, according to breaking-news test results from the Delft University of Technology. 

Longer-range experiments are pending, and if the theory continues to hold true it means that information could be transmitted between two points anywhere in the universe. Instantly, like teleportation.

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