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Google rumoured to launch satellite internet service

Google rumoured to launch satellite internet service

Google is claimed to be expanding its balloon-based Project Loon with plans for a network of low-orbit micro-satellites offering internet connectivity to disconnected areas.

Advertising giant Google is claimed to be spending more than $1 billion (around £597 million) on a fleet of orbital satellites designed to provide internet access to those currently bereft.

According to details obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Google plans to spend between $1 billion and $3 billion in order to build a series of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites which would provide wireless internet connectivity to areas of the world which are currently under-served by traditional methods of connectivity. The move is claimed to be a progression from Project Loon, a lower-cost endeavour in which Google has deployed balloons equipped with mesh networking capabilities to provide expanded internet coverage in selected areas.

The anonymous sources speaking to the paper claimed that the project will begin with 180 micro-satellites orbiting at lower-than-usual altitudes, each capable of providing connectivity to a surprising quantity of users. The project is claimed to be led by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite communications company O3b Networks in which Google was an early investor. Wyler recently joined Google as a full-time employee, alongside the former chief technology officer of the company.

'Internet connectivity significantly improves people's lives,' a Google spokesperson told the paper when the company was contacted for comment, 'yet two-thirds of the world have no access at all.' While that was clear indication that the company, which makes the vast majority of its revenue by serving adverts and collating user data for use by advertisers, is investigating potential solutions it's far from confirmation that a wide-area satellite internet network is close to launch.

14 Comments

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Corky42 2nd June 2014, 10:05 Quote
There must be a better way of bringing the Internet to people without access, that doesn't add to the ever growing space junk already floating around up there :(
rollo 2nd June 2014, 11:08 Quote
Till it can provide more than downstream your still better with a standard DSL connection. Friend of mine has sat Internet he gets 80mb down and 0.25mb up with some crazy pings for gaming on.

Useful in areas with no internet at all but not so good if you have options. It's also very expensive in the uk at least. Googles cable/ fiber idea sounds better.
Fracture 2nd June 2014, 11:53 Quote
This is a move for Google to provide internet access to hundreds of millions of people who are spread out over an enormous area. This is in their eyes the most cost effective means of achieving this goal and getting access to a new, largely untapped source of potential internet users. You don't need high speed internet to use Google, view Google Ads online or to provide the information that they collect.
Its not for gaming and it isn't for people who already have access to the internet...
Flibblebot 2nd June 2014, 12:25 Quote
Don't most satellite Internet services use a dialup connection for the uplink? Or does this use two-way communication between ground & satellite?
Pookie 2nd June 2014, 12:43 Quote
There are people out in remote areas of the UK that struggle to even get dial up speeds. For them this would be perfect if only for basic email and web surfing.
azazel1024 2nd June 2014, 14:57 Quote
That is the problem, many people have no option or at best dial up. Still have to be fairly close to the office/exchange for DSL to be a viable option.

One perk of Google's plan here, at least looking at the roughest outline of "180 micro sats in LEO" is that, other than possible network congestion, ping should be low because the distances involved are not that large (on the order of hundreds of miles, not the tens of thousands you get with a GSO com sat). Also the large number will likely be somewhat better and load sharing and also probably be able to get away with an omni antenna (think Iridium sat phone style).

That doesn't mean you'll get 80mbps down, but it might mean you could possibly get away with 5-15mbps down and 1-5mbps up and only add a dozen or three ms to your ping times.

I'd consider that pretty awesome depending on coverage area. Heck, that would be amazing for "anywhere" internet...even if it was slower in the 2-3mbps down and .5mbps up. Slow...but if you can get it almost anywhere (car, boat, RV, home, rural, camping) and if ping times really are very reasonable...
schmidtbag 2nd June 2014, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Till it can provide more than downstream your still better with a standard DSL connection. Friend of mine has sat Internet he gets 80mb down and 0.25mb up with some crazy pings for gaming on.

Useful in areas with no internet at all but not so good if you have options. It's also very expensive in the uk at least. Googles cable/ fiber idea sounds better.

Seeing as this is google we're talking about, I'd expect no less than 4G speeds, and 4G is more than sufficient for the average person. Personally what I find interesting is how this will work on a global scale. Many phone companies that supply stuff like 3G or 4G are restricted to specific countries due to frequency ranges. So, as far as I'm aware, Verizon's 4G satelites, while accessible in Europe, are not available for European phones. Assuming what google is doing isn't specific to phones, this could allow anyone anywhere to sign up and connect. If this is fast enough, it could seriously put some real competition between ISPs worldwide, at least the scummy ones.
IvanIvanovich 2nd June 2014, 16:42 Quote
Perhaps some ISP will start doing something to improve infrastructure and connection speeds when loads of paying customers suddenly leave to get better service for free.
XXAOSICXX 2nd June 2014, 17:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Till it can provide more than downstream your still better with a standard DSL connection. Friend of mine has sat Internet he gets 80mb down and 0.25mb up with some crazy pings for gaming on.

Useful in areas with no internet at all but not so good if you have options. It's also very expensive in the uk at least. Googles cable/ fiber idea sounds better.

I don't think this is aimed at you and me mate :/

Think Africa and you might be closer to the money.
Sloth 2nd June 2014, 20:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
There must be a better way of bringing the Internet to people without access, that doesn't add to the ever growing space junk already floating around up there :(
With the mention of being in LEO at "lower than normal altitudes" I wonder if they plan to let the orbits decay to "clean up" the satellites once they've gone EOL.
azazel1024 2nd June 2014, 21:37 Quote
5,000 miles, which isn't LEO. So, Google/PR is kind of lying about that.

That is a many millenium orbit. LEO, IIRC is the space below around 500 miles. Not 5,000 miles. Its lower than GEO, but it is no where near LEO.
law99 2nd June 2014, 22:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel1024
That is the problem, many people have no option or at best dial up. Still have to be fairly close to the office/exchange for DSL to be a viable option.

One perk of Google's plan here, at least looking at the roughest outline of "180 micro sats in LEO" is that, other than possible network congestion, ping should be low because the distances involved are not that large (on the order of hundreds of miles, not the tens of thousands you get with a GSO com sat). Also the large number will likely be somewhat better and load sharing and also probably be able to get away with an omni antenna (think Iridium sat phone style).

That doesn't mean you'll get 80mbps down, but it might mean you could possibly get away with 5-15mbps down and 1-5mbps up and only add a dozen or three ms to your ping times.

I'd consider that pretty awesome depending on coverage area. Heck, that would be amazing for "anywhere" internet...even if it was slower in the 2-3mbps down and .5mbps up. Slow...but if you can get it almost anywhere (car, boat, RV, home, rural, camping) and if ping times really are very reasonable...

Tdm over 180 satellites to serve the world. I don't think you'll be seeing particularly fast speeds. If Iridium is our example, then it'll be ****. I'm not sure what constellation next or whatever Iridium are calling there next platform is aiming for speed wise, but 128kbits per second is where iridium is at currently. But their service is creaking from their previous bankruptcy to be fair.

I tell you one thing though, Iridium and Globalstar will be shitting themselves if Google are serious.

As to ping times... The traffic still has to be landed. So you're going to see your traffic travel across a big wireless mesh in the sky, then to a satellite access station, then out to the world. So, it ain't gonna be fast. Terrestrial mobile/cellular networks will seem fast in comparison. Forced routing will also rear its ugly head here and there.
mclean007 4th June 2014, 02:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Seeing as this is google we're talking about, I'd expect no less than 4G speeds, and 4G is more than sufficient for the average person. Personally what I find interesting is how this will work on a global scale. Many phone companies that supply stuff like 3G or 4G are restricted to specific countries due to frequency ranges. So, as far as I'm aware, Verizon's 4G satelites, while accessible in Europe, are not available for European phones. Assuming what google is doing isn't specific to phones, this could allow anyone anywhere to sign up and connect. If this is fast enough, it could seriously put some real competition between ISPs worldwide, at least the scummy ones.
You need to educate yourself about mobile networks. Verizon isn't delivering 4G by satellite. 4G is (like 3G and GSM before it) delivered by mobile base stations (and Verizon's US network definitely isn't "accessible in Europe"). Unless you have an Iridium phone (which looks like the cell phones in American Psycho) the only communicating it does with a satellite is receiving a GPS signal.
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