Here’s a fascinating interview with Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb (formerly known as WorldVu Satellites, the company with co-operation from Qualcomm and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group plans to launch a constellation of 648 satellites to provide high speed internet and telecoms access to every person on the planet. earth. In this Bloomberg interview Wyler talks about their desire for an accessible price-point of $200 for the equipment that will allow, say schools in Africa to access the web.
Satellite Internet access has been patchy up to now, with a latency created by the significant distance to satellites from earth stations – these current satellites are located in a geo-stationary orbit known as the The Clarke Belt about 36,000km above the Earth’s Equator.
Wireless signals take about 0.12 seconds to reach a geo-stationary satellite taking almost a quarter of a second for a round trip back to Earth and it’s this delay that’s the reason for such a disappointing user experience for web-users using satellite internet. Wyler’s project, earmarked to be operational in 2018, is different though with the OneWeb satellites sitting around 1,200 kms above the earth.
The satellite-internet business is hotting up, as Elon Musk’s SpaceX are also planning a similar low-orbit satellite constellation launching in November. Based out of Musk’s Seattle office, SpaceX will launch around 700 satellites at a cost of around $10 Billion. These projects, Google wifi and Mark Zuckerberg’s Intrenet.org mean that we’re edging closer to ubiquitous connectivity, and from the consumers perspective, lower prices with a competitive market-place.