Asian tech giant Samsung is proposing a game-change method to reorganise the way the internet is accessed on a global scale.
The so-called “space internet” would be a network of 4,600 micro-satellites that could give the opportunity of using low-cost internet connections to “everyone in the world.”
The explosion in mobile internet use, especially in developing countries and emerging markets, means that extending existing models of terrestrial cellular networks to cover the globe could be too costly and ultimately ineffective.
The sheer amount of data in the form of news feeds and other content being transferred is already causing problems, and as more users switch from 3G to 4G and beyond, things will only get worse.
Samsung’s new proposal is contained in an academic research paper from Farooq Khan, president of Samsung R&D America.
Khan said: “By the year 2028, both cellular and Wi-Fi will be carrying data traffic in excess of one zetabyte/month.
“Our goal here is to design a space internet with similar capacity. This space internet can then provide backhaul for cellular and Wi-Fi as well as direct communication with the satellite connecting the world’s population currently without internet access.”
Under Khan’s plan, 4,600 micro-satellites would be placed in low earth orbit between 160km and 2,000km high.
The number of satellites would ensure continuity of service, allowing any holes that appear to be plugged straight away.
With each satellite able to handle data rates of at least one terabit/s “or higher”, the response times for traffic “to go halfway around earth” would be similar to those already achieved by fibre optic links, Khan said.
Samsung’s vision of a web of satellites becoming the next evolution of the world wide web as we know it today means a potential five billion users worldwide could benefit from 200GB/month with latencies that rivalled the best ground-based systems.
Samsung isn’t the only tech giant to be using what could literally be called “blue sky thinking.” Google also has proposals for satellite and balloon-based internet systems in the planning stages.