Project "Outernet" looking to bring free Internet to entire world

Feb 24, 2014 by Bob Yirka weblog
Project

A small team of workers at a New York based non-profit organization called Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) has announced its intention to build an "Outernet"—a global network of cube satellites broadcasting Internet data to virtually any person on the planet—for free. The idea, the MDIF website says, is to offer free Internet access to all people, regardless of location, bypassing filtering or other means of censorship.

As the Internet has grown in size and importance, human rights organizations, or those (such as MDIF) promoting freedom of expression, have begun to propose that access to the information that the Internet can provide, is a basic human right. Conversely, they suggest that restricting access to the Internet is a violation of human rights. MDIF seeks to circumvent those that might wish to violate such by bypassing their ability to restrict access—they are proposing 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.

MDIF claims that 40 percent 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. An Outernet would allow people from Siberia to parts of the western United States to remote islands or villages in Africa to receive the same news as those in New York, Tokyo, Moscow or Islamabad. That they say, would guarantee all people the same Internet rights as everyone else.

The Outernet, as envisioned, 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. At this time, it's not clear how much MDIF has been able to collect for the project, but acknowledge that building such a network would not be cheap. Such satellites typically run $100,000 to $300,000 to build and launch. Still, the timeline for the project calls for deploying the initial cubesats as early as next summer.

As conceived, at least in its initial stages, the constellation of satellites would broadcast data received in a continuous loop until new fresh data arrives. Broadcasting will be done using already accepted international standards such as UDP-based WiFi multicasting, DVB, and Digital Radio Mondiale.

Explore further: Largest flock of Earth-imaging satellites launch into orbit from Space Station

More information: www.outernet.is/

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User comments : 30

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AkiBola
2 / 5 (21) Feb 24, 2014
"guarantee all people the same Internet rights as everyone else". There is no right to have internet. If you choose to live in a remote area, why would you expect the same services as a city dweller? There won't be a regular bus service either.
Diogenes Tha Dogg
4.6 / 5 (17) Feb 24, 2014
"guarantee all people the same Internet rights as everyone else". There is no right to have internet. If you choose to live in a remote area, why would you expect the same services as a city dweller? There won't be a regular bus service either.


You're making the (huge) assumption that all people can freely & easily choose where they live. What of the impoverished?
triplehelix
1.8 / 5 (15) Feb 24, 2014
Nothing in life is free. How they can give millions super fast space satellite internet for free is beyond me.

It will not happen if it remains free. It needs to get money from somewhere, probably UN countries pooling taxation money into it. So yet another thing the taxpayer is paying for while also paying for broadband themselves (so paying for 2 internets).
triplehelix
1.3 / 5 (13) Feb 24, 2014
"guarantee all people the same Internet rights as everyone else". There is no right to have internet. If you choose to live in a remote area, why would you expect the same services as a city dweller? There won't be a regular bus service either.


You're making the (huge) assumption that all people can freely & easily choose where they live. What of the impoverished?


I doubt those that are that impoverished can afford a phone or computer, and if they can, they will be in a country so rife with corruption and poor living standards I highly doubt funny cat videos are going to be a priority for them.
Rimino
Feb 24, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (13) Feb 24, 2014
Nothing in life is free. How they can give millions super fast space satellite internet for free is beyond me.

Ad revenues, UN grants,... Or just wealthy philantrophists. The costs are not so exorbitant as to rule out some very basic scheme to have this funded. They are not saying that the content will be for free - but that it will be free of censorship and freely available to anyone with an appropriate receiver.

Note that no one in the world has 'free' internet the way you seem to argue. Everyone who isn't leeching wifi of someone else pays for their access in one way or another. It's like freedom to travel from the US the Europe. That doesn't mean such travel won't cost you any money, does it?
thingumbobesquire
2.9 / 5 (7) Feb 24, 2014
Of course the NSA would do everything in its power to subvert this into a Panopticon.
krundoloss
4.6 / 5 (5) Feb 24, 2014
"The Outernet, as envisioned, would be one-way—data would flow from feeders to the satellites which would broadcast to all below."


So, basically this is the same as radio or TV, just kind of in an RSS Feed format? That is very feasible. But who gets to control the information it contains? What kind of device would you need to access it? Since it is one-way, the information must be streamed out. Sounds extremely limited in its usefulness. Of course, two-way communication would make it a real internet connection.
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 24, 2014
This is not free internet. This system is equivalent to the teletext system of old that used broadcast television frame gaps to loop a bitstream that could be displayed on any television set that supported it.

It's a one-way broadcasting system designed to spread "information" by whomever is in control of the feeder network.

It will probably be viewed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran etc. as a further attempt of the west to spread propaganda against them.
Jimee
4.2 / 5 (11) Feb 24, 2014
Very small people look at everything in a very small way. Why should "we" have to sacrifice so those people don"t starve? Luckily there are others who are not so petty.
cjn
4.8 / 5 (6) Feb 24, 2014
Information is empowerment. It is in everyone's best interest to increase access for many in the 3rd world to information outside of what is immediately available. Further, I believe the initial roll out of the system will involve pushing out relevant weather and event data, vice providing access to cat videos.
Returners
5 / 5 (3) Feb 24, 2014
Nothing in life is free. How they can give millions super fast space satellite internet for free is beyond me.

It will not happen if it remains free. It needs to get money from somewhere, probably UN countries pooling taxation money into it. So yet another thing the taxpayer is paying for while also paying for broadband themselves (so paying for 2 internets).


Search ads and other similar income exists.
Eikka
3.8 / 5 (4) Feb 24, 2014
Further, I believe the initial roll out of the system will involve pushing out relevant weather and event data


And who's gonna choose what events are relevant, and what specific information about the event is passed along the network?

It pretty much amounts to asking whether the outernet news feed is aggregated from Al Jazeera or Fox News, and who gets to decide?
peter_trypsteen
4 / 5 (5) Feb 24, 2014
More free internet be good!
Thnder
4.6 / 5 (5) Feb 24, 2014
Nothing in life is free. How they can give millions super fast space satellite internet for free is beyond me.
Not quite. For example, you can use most of bridges and roadways freely - and the Internet is just a such roadway.

The roads and bridges themselves are not free. Taxes paid for those to be available for everyone's use. Use of most are indeed free, some have tolls though. However maintenance of all said roads and bridges to keep them useable, are not free. Taxes again. Like roads and bridges, they need revenues to build and maintain it. I think by ads or donations as others have opined, not necessarily taxes.

Points for the radio analogy though. I believe that best fits this.
KBK
1 / 5 (1) Feb 24, 2014
non stop transmit?

all bieber and cyrus videos?
RVenu
5 / 5 (5) Feb 24, 2014
"Nothing in life is free. How they can give millions super fast space satellite internet for free is beyond me."

The same was said about Encyclopedia's not too long ago. We now have Wikipedia.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Feb 25, 2014
The same was said about Encyclopedia's not too long ago. We now have Wikipedia.


Except they're begging for money constantly.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2014
Taxes again.

So you really have a problem that part of your taxes would be spent on something like this? As, say, opposed to yet another nuclear bomber? Really?
alfie_null
not rated yet Feb 25, 2014
Not much mention of what might be used as the ground terminal (well, let's just call it a receiver, because that's all it is - as others have noted, this is not for two-way traffic). What frequency band? Broadcast or shortwave (e.g. DRM)? Propagation is going to be lousy. Or 2.4GHz (e.g. 802.11)? What signal power at the receiver? You're going to need a high gain antenna at the receiver. It will then have to track one of the constellation of these microsats during its window. Then another and another as their orbits pass by.

These are unrealistic expectations of what the potential audience, particularly in a developing country, can provide.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 25, 2014
Taxes again.

So you really have a problem that part of your taxes would be spent on something like this? As, say, opposed to yet another nuclear bomber? Really?
Without the nuclear deterrent, trolls would reign and there would be no internet.
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2014
Without the nuclear deterrent, trolls would reign and there would be no internet.

...says the voting troll who wants to rule theinternet with ballot stuffing.

Oh, the irony is too rich...if only you could see it.

It's so bizarre when people who shout about protection of freedom at every opportunity attack the one thing that would actually be a pro-freedom project. The hypocrisy these people exhibit is mind-blowing.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 26, 2014
Hey aa I hear North Korea is working on ICBMs which could deliver their nukes as far as hamburg and beyond. At the same time the US is cutting its military to pre-ww2 levels.

You may find this something to be concerned about. Or not. I'm sure it's nothing really. Kim Jong un seems like a reasonable man.

"THE entire family of Kim Jong-un's uncle, executed less than a month ago, have also been killed at the North Korean leader's instruction... "All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children."

"... forces women to undergo abortions and young mothers to drown their newborn babies, and has starved and executed hundreds of thousands of detainees at secret prison camps — atrocities that the chairman of a U.N. panel that documented the abuses compares to those of Nazi Germany."

Erm maybe not.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2014
We sent Dennis rodman over but he washed out. Perhaps if Katerina Witt is not too busy she could go and have a talk with him? Boris Becker vielleicht?
EnricM
5 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2014

It will not happen if it remains free. It needs to get money from somewhere, probably UN countries pooling taxation money into it. So yet another thing the taxpayer is paying for while also paying for broadband themselves (so paying for 2 internets).


Well, that's what taxes are fore, aren't they?
To pay roads, dykes and stuff so that people have an infrastructure were you can live and were you can conduct business. Isn't it that way?
Or were the German Autobahnen build with private money? Or the Dutch dykes that hold my ass from being 3 meters under water?

TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2014
As we are moving towards highly efficient ways to exchange information, it is odd to observe how some people fail to realize how much they would be winners in this kind of investment.

Roads and other transportation infrastructures allow anyone to go anywhere and also permit exchange of goods from anywhere at affordable prices. The same benefits would come from a global information exchange infrastructure.

The next Einstein could be anywhere. Curious kids can learn anything they want now; one just needs to know how to search for valuable information. All that is needed for education is an internet access, a decent bandwidth and some parental guidance.

The internet is a hub to share ideas. If you are, as I am, amazed with the pace at which we are developing our knowledge of sciences and the pace of innovations be aware that more information exchanges will bring ever more progress. The more there will be gray matter on the internet the faster humanity will move forward.

If everybody would had tought of infrastructures in terms of taxation, we would still live in huts.
Thnder
not rated yet Feb 27, 2014
Taxes again.

So you really have a problem that part of your taxes would be spent on something like this? As, say, opposed to yet another nuclear bomber? Really?


My problem is not using my taxes for endeavors I find worthwhile.
My problem is the gun to my head and the deficit perpetrated by irresponsible children that know not how to balance a budget and keep it balanced. Until it is balanced, I will continue to have a problem with any additional spending that does not qualify as "needed" and THIS and your nuclear bomber nonsense, is not "needed".
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2014
My problem is not using my taxes for endeavors I find worthwhile.
My problem is the gun to my head and the deficit perpetrated by irresponsible children that know not how to balance a budget and keep it balanced. Until it is balanced, I will continue to have a problem with any additional spending that does not qualify as "needed"...

I can understand your concerns, but we all know that the internet have created economic growth. A global access to it can only mean more business opportunities.
gary_john_1217
not rated yet Mar 01, 2014
one of my friend told me about that , and that time was like stop kidding me :D but now !! it's confirmed :D http://www.secmad...rom.html
jackjump
not rated yet Mar 02, 2014
"The Outernet, as envisioned, would be one-way—data would flow from feeders to the satellites which would broadcast to all below."

The internet is fundamentally interactive. If you cannot select that which you wish to access on the internet (which requires two way communication) you are not on the internet. Obviously those satellites cannot broadcast everything that's on the internet and if they could it would take a special receiver to choose from that data. If you are receiving broadcast internet data you are receiving information someone has selected for you. Who is selecting that information and for what purpose? If this is a private effort I could give a damn, they're probably trying to sell something (like ersatz internet receivers). If tax money is involved, I object because frankly it sounds like propaganda.
adam_russell_9615
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2014
It may be free but it wont be good. Latency is always bad with satellite internet.