The Internet, From Space
The Internet, it's how we work how go to school, how we see friends and family. But not everyone has a good connection and that's where a few tech companies come in with a sort of modest proposal. What have we got our Internet from Outerspace Adam Clark estes deputy editor at recode wrote about this, and is here to talk about Adam. Surprising thing in your story that a lot of people probably don't already know is that a lot of listeners already get through Internet via satellite. That's how we get wi fi on planes for instance. So why hasn't this taken off more broadly satellite Internet has historically been and? Just. A little bit sub par When you compare it to terrestrial Wifi, you're down on planet earth. We have fiber optic cables which basically have limited bandwidth and to do satellite Internet. You're basically beaming connection from address Joe Network up to satellite and back down and technology just hasn't been good enough to to get with to enough people so that it compares to terrestrial broadband. Internet. You might get from a variety inner time Warner A, but that's starting to change with new satellite technology and would call constellations of satellites and has pandemic at all sort of raise the stakes for this work and made it. More, urgent less-urgent. Tell me about that depend epic is. Really accelerated development, and especially investment in the technology. Just after the pandemic started, it became incredibly clear that a lot of people don't have Internet access and they're being left behind young students who aren't able to get online for classes, people who aren't able to to to work remotely. So once it became so clear that solving this problem of Internet access was urgent a lot more investment went into Xilai. Broadband initiatives the number of launches went up quite a bit and I. Think, we're GONNA see that investment continue and more these networks go online in the near future Gotcha. So who exactly is trying to do this? What are the different companies that see a future in? Internet for space, the two companies being talked about both right now our space x and Amazon both of them are launching what are called low earth orbit constellations into space this year, and in addition to them, there are companies that have had satellites These are the companies that. You. Probably. Use to get a connection on a plane or a train and via sat and Hughes two big players in that space and part of the idea is tabby satellites be sort of a low orbit, right? So there are two main types of satellite broadband setups. One is geosynchronous satellites geosynchronous satellite. Okay. So A geosynchronous satellites as above one place on earth and spins with the earth so that it can be connected down to to anywhere on the surface at any given time. The second kind and this is sort of the the newer more exciting type according to some. This is what spacex, Amazon or doing. These are called low earth orbit satellites. Geosynchronous satellites are thousands of miles above the earth surface low orbit satellites. However, as the name implies are much closer, they might be as little as three hundred miles above earth surface. I think it SPACEX, they're going to be about three, hundred and. Forty miles above the surface, and that means that the distance that the signal has to travel is much less, which means you get lower latency that means you won't get a lag on a connection and because there are a lot of different satellites, Elon Musk, and spacex say that you'll have a bandwidth that will be able to compete with terrestrial broadband and even fiber optic networks, Gotcha and SPACEX and Amazon are doing this. I assume just because there's money to be made right I. Mean I got think. There's a bounty at the end Elon. Musk has said that he just wants to get into the business and he wants to disrupt the telecom business and he believes that he can make enough money doing. So to help fund his mission to colonize Mars. Amazon hasn't said that much about why they're doing it It might also be just to get into the telecom business in compete in an industry that is is fairly monopolized. Others have hypothesized at Amazon wants to get into the satellite broadband business because then they could be their own first customer, Amazon web services, of course, offers a lot of cloud computing technology and the ability. To be connected to the Internet anywhere on Earth, could do a number of different great things, aws. Got It. So the answer is a mix of just straight up capitalism money to be made if we don't make it someone else will, and then another incentive is that this could be pretty synergistic with the main business and I'd add a third thing and and everybody mentions this. Bridging the digital divide is not only good for business. It's sort of good for mankind connecting more people to the Internet stands to have great unforeseen benefits space experts didn't says. The connecting people that previously could not get Internet access in parts of the rural United States and southern Canada. Like the Pacific Northwest Region is where they've had Beta, testers and I think that a lot of different companies have really pursued the dream of satellite broadband because it can reach people in areas that no one else can these are areas that aren't served by big telecom companies where there aren't fiber optic cables and in fact, would be expensive to build that infrastructure that no one has ever going to do it.