The Race on Connecting the Entire World to the Internet
Posted on November 10, 2021 | by Shinely Ainsworth
If you have a satellite internet connection, then you probably know that it’s not always the greatest and often has data limits each month. However, Amazon and SpaceX want to change that so that satellite internet is available across the world and at faster and more reliable speeds.
You’ve probably seen information about space races on the news. These races aren’t about getting people into space. Instead, they’re about getting the world connected and online. Elon Musk has been working on SpaceX since 2019 and now has about 1,000 satellites in orbit. The satellites are in a low-earth orbit as this allows for better signal and more control. The goal is to try to get the internet to many of the rural and underserved areas of the world as possible to improve the way that people are educated, the way that they work, and how they stay connected to friends and family. Amazon recently announced that the company wants to put its Project Kuiper satellites alongside those that are part of the SpaceX project. The goal is to try to get a prototype up and running before the end of 2022 with more satellites in orbit as well if all goes according to plan.
There are about 4 billion people in the world who either don’t have internet services or have limited services because they live in rural areas that don’t have the best connection. Several businesses in these areas don’t have access, which makes it difficult to order supplies that are needed or to meet the needs of customers. Some cruise ships and airlines have limited access to the internet as well, which sometimes means that crew members and passengers don’t get updated information or don’t have a way to connect with others who need to know about their location or trip.
There aren’t a lot of details that are being released by Amazon at the moment or by other companies that want to try to get their satellites in orbit to try to compete with the service that’s offered by SpaceX and Amazon. There are already about 90,000 people who have connected to Starlink. Some companies have tried to reach more people by putting satellites in orbit, but they haven’t succeeded quite as well as Elon Musk has with the way that he’s been able to reach as many people as he has in such a short time. A company-sponsored by Bill Gates is Teledesic. It was launched in the mid-1990s and was a failure after Gates spent an enormous amount of money as the cost of maintaining the satellites rose into the billions.
Iridium and Globalstar are other companies that have attempted to do the same as Amazon and Elon Musk. However, they both ended in bankruptcy. OneWeb started the process of launching in 2020, but the company also ended up going bankrupt before anything was really established. Musk knows that there have been companies that have had to declare bankruptcy, and Amazon also knows that there is a risk involved in getting its project launched. Musk has gone on to say that there’s no guarantee that Starlink will be the success that he hopes for but that he has a desire to reach as many people as possible so that they can have access to the internet. Amazon has also come on board with claims that they hope to do well in the endeavor.