Google has already begun testing with balloons (see Project Loon). Facebook is currently working with solar-powered Internet drones, OneWeb is garnering funding for satellite clusters, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX program has already filed for permission to begin testing their satellites - all for the purpose of delivering space-based internet to the world below. Now Samsung may be throwing their hat in the internet space race as well, after news hit last week of a research paper titled “Mobile Internet from the Heavens”, which proposes to provide Earth-wide internet through a series of roughly 4,600 micro satellites.
With projects looming (or in progress) from tech giants like Google and SpaceX, which are attempting to provide essentially the exact same service, why the sudden interest in satellite-based internet from Samsung? According to Farooq Khan, president of Samsung research and development in Texas, the further development of this 5G communication technology will eventually help to reduce their own costs across the board. Additionally, a broader access to internet access will only serve to expand their already large customer base – the more people that have internet, the more people that will need smartphones, computers and tablets to surf the web on. Plus, not only would Samsung’s Space Internet actually lower internet costs, but it would also allow for more and faster downloads. And of course, there is the added benefit of being the company that managed to successfully connect the whole Earth; not a bad title, right? “Connector of Earth”…
While Samsung’s proposal most resembles the plan that SpaceX is currently seeking approval for, it has taken its own approach in the delivery. The paper outlines the general system as a series of roughly 4,600 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites positioned about 1,500 kilometers from the Earth’s surface. Unlike typical geostationary satellites, which are positioned much farther from the Earth’s surface and can take up to a quarter of a second to ping a signal from Earth to satellite and back, Samsung hopes their smaller, nearer satellites will significantly speed up connections while also lowering costs. While a quarter second may not sound like much time to you, this delay is significantly more than most of us have become accustomed to in our day and age. The biggest hurdle currently standing in Samsung’s way is the absence of advanced technology in our current smart devices to be able to bring his vision to fruition. However, given the advancements that companies like Intel and AMD are making in regards to chipsets and processors, the arrival of an Earth-wide internet could be looming on the horizon sooner than you think.
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