AfterDawn: Tech news

Google to provide Internet access with 180 satellites

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 02 Jun 2014 8:12 User comments (6)

Google to provide Internet access with 180 satellites According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is set to spend over $1 billion launching 180 satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide Internet access around the world.
Previously, Google had raised more than a few eyebrows a year ago when it announced Project Loon to deliver Internet access in unconnected areas and disaster zones using balloons high up in the atmosphere. Since then, it also bought Titan Aerospace, a company that is building drones that are solar-powered and can provide Internet access from above too.

Google is now preparing to jump above the atmosphere for its cause of delivering Internet access globally. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Google is preparing to launch 180 mini satellites that will orbit the Earth at relatively low altitude and will possibly launch more later.

The report cited sources familiar with the project in setting an expected cost of around $1 billion, though other sources hinted it could swell to $3 billion as the project progresses.

Greg Wyler, founder of O3b Networks, has been identified as the head of the project. O3b Networks has been invested in by Google, and it produces 1500lb satellites. Google's sats though, will reportedly weigh in at 250lb a piece.

The report stated that the satellite project is not likely to replace Google's work with drones and balloons, but instead will just be another part of Google's overall strategy to extend Internet access to the two-thirds of people who don't have it, and to provide it to areas devastated by natural disasters.


Sources and Recommended Reading:
Google Invests in Satellites to Spread Internet Access: online.wsj.com (subscription)
Google reportedly launching 180 satellites for global internet service: www.theverge.com
Google wants to beam Internet from balloons: www.afterdawn.com (June 16, 2013)
Picture Source of 03b Networks first satellite: www.o3bnetworks.com

Tags: Google

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6 user comments

12.6.2014 9:45

Hmmm, Skynet anyone?

Oh, and if 1 Billion gets you 180, than 3 Billion should total 580 low orbit satellites.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 02 Jun 2014 @ 9:48

22.6.2014 10:17

Originally posted by rocky38:
Hmmm, Skynet anyone?

Oh, and if 1 Billion gets you 180, than 3 Billion should total 580 low orbit satellites.

Well there's other costs to take into account. In fact, the highest cost of all will be just to launch the sats into orbit, as rockets are SUPER expensive. SpaceX are probably their cheapest choice to hitch a ride to orbit, but even SpaceX' reusable rockets are a few years away from being used, so its still millions of dollars per launch, though with 250lb satellites you could probably deploy a few payloads per launch. I don't know that for sure but 180 separate launches sounds like it would cost a hell of a lot more than $1 billion, or even $3 billion :-)

32.6.2014 11:29

Tim Farrar, the man quoted by WSJ, has updated his recent blog post on the news with a clarification. Here is the paragraph on costings:

Quote:
UPDATE (6/1): The WSJ now has more details of the plan, confirming my supposition that it would start with 180 satellites and add the rest later. I was quoted in that article as stating that “180 small satellites could be launched for as little as about $600 million” but that should not be interpreted as a total cost for building and launching the satellites. If the target of 100kg could be achieved, the all-in cost for the first 180 satellites would certainly approach $2B, and if the satellites end up being more like 200-300kg, which a satellite designer suggested to me might be easier to achieve, then that all-in cost could reach $3B. The full 360 satellite system would likely cost $3B for the 100kg satellites and $4B-$5B for the 200-300kg satellites.
I would encourage reading the rest of the post too, though.

http://tmfassociates.com/blog/2014/05/29/googles-space-odyssey/

Edit RE the 'Skynet' remark - there are already a lot of satellites in Lower Earth Orbit and beyond, including ones there to serve this exact purpose - provide internet access to remote locations. This is just public interest because, well, it's Google.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 02 Jun 2014 @ 11:34


42.6.2014 11:53

Originally posted by Ripper:
Tim Farrar, the man quoted by WSJ, has updated his recent blog post on the news with a clarification. Here is the paragraph on costings:

Quote:
UPDATE (6/1): The WSJ now has more details of the plan, confirming my supposition that it would start with 180 satellites and add the rest later. I was quoted in that article as stating that “180 small satellites could be launched for as little as about $600 million” but that should not be interpreted as a total cost for building and launching the satellites. If the target of 100kg could be achieved, the all-in cost for the first 180 satellites would certainly approach $2B, and if the satellites end up being more like 200-300kg, which a satellite designer suggested to me might be easier to achieve, then that all-in cost could reach $3B. The full 360 satellite system would likely cost $3B for the 100kg satellites and $4B-$5B for the 200-300kg satellites.
I would encourage reading the rest of the post too, though.

http://tmfassociates.com/blog/2014/05/29/googles-space-odyssey/

Edit RE the 'Skynet' remark - there are already a lot of satellites in Lower Earth Orbit and beyond, including ones there to serve this exact purpose - provide internet access to remote locations. This is just public interest because, well, it's Google.

Thanks mate, I'll add that info to the article shortly!

52.6.2014 12:27

No problem!

Can't see cost standing in the way of Google's ambition here anyway and I would imagine SpaceX will win this contract, particularly considering the relationship between Larry Page and Elon Musk. The more money being put into the private space industry the better, in my opinion.



62.6.2014 19:27

I see more futuristic deal:
A FREE Hi-speed Wi-Fi everywhere on small/big business, schools, etc. Than a 1K small satellites falling down 'cos out of orbit.

Just saying.


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