back to article Chaps propose free global WiFi delivered FROM SPAAAACE

Free WiFi is an idea that just won't go away, with a new proposal calling for it to be made available to everyone in the world via. satellite. This arrangement is dubbed an “Outernet” by a band of chaps who have floated an idea of how to build one, namely by sending aloft a swarm of tiny satellites that would beam down a …


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  1. frank ly

    I see some difficulty

    Government financed ISS resupply missions (and similar) will be used to enable cubesat deployment, which will be used to bypass government censorship and oversight of financial transactions ??

    1. Hugh McIntyre

      Re: I see some difficulty

      Presumably the idea would be for one group of ISS-operating western/Russian governments to beam free internet to non-ISS Internet-censored countries like North Korea, in the style of Radio Free Europe? The website also claims natural disaster broadcasts as a goal.

      As you say there may be an issue getting all of the ISS governments to agree on content though. Plus this is not free since even a small increase in launch weight adds fuel and cost.

      The website explicitly says this is broadcast, not a regular 2-way network connection (except for "a small number of users"), and this makes sense since you'd presumably need a larger and possibly Internet-censored antenna to transmit data to space. So no sending email or random web browsing - more like waiting for your page to come round in the style of Ceefax. Maybe also a not-easy-to-obtain antenna for receiving data, presuming they don't expect to deliver useful 802.11 power levels from space?

    2. auburnman

      Re: I see some difficulty

      It's not unheard of for the government(s) to accidentally or deliberately fight itself.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: I see some difficulty

      The Tor project was originally set up by the US government, and is still partially funded by the US state department.

    4. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: I see some difficulty

      Who says the delivery vehicle must have anything to do with any government? I can think of a couple of private space firms off the top of my head...

  2. LaeMing

    Them aliens is here to steal our...


    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Them aliens is here to steal our...

      Of course, the Mysterons are big fans of Lolcats and as long as they continue we are safe.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Free" eh?

    AFAIK the only "free" things run by businesses on the internet are where you are the product.


    You bet.

  4. WonkoTheSane


    "subset of the Internet" & "Bypass censorship" in the same sentence?

  5. Trygve Henriksen

    A bit puzzled...

    I didn't know that cubesats had to be based on Arduinos.

    As for streaming those sites...

    We are talking some serious capacity here. Probably in the 'several TB' range somewhere.

    So, how exactly is a user supposed to look up a page on Wikipedia?

    "I need to look up something. Can you wait a few hours until my PC has downloaded the latest version of the Wiki page?"

    Seems they'll be It won't be free, either, as you'd need an SMS-capable phone or a smartphone with an app to add the stuff you want to the priority list.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bit puzzled...

      So, how exactly is a user supposed to look up a page on Wikipedia?

      Can't you remember ceefax?

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: A bit puzzled...

        "Can't you remember ceefax?"

        I can, and I can remember the excruciating agony of waiting to cycle to the correct page - and that was only for 5 or 6 pages. Imagine the wait-times to cycle through 4.5m wikipedia articles!

        1. Kay Burley ate my hamster

          Re: A bit puzzled...

          I assume the bandwidth may be a little wider.

          1. Kay Burley ate my hamster

            Re: A bit puzzled...

            Also caching, lots of caching. This actually happened to Teletext in it's final years (via capture cards), it made it very fast to use.

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: I assume the bandwidth may be a little wider.

            I don't. Each satellite has essentially no power, broadcasting to receivers 100 miles away. I imagine bit-rates will be just that -- bits, not kilobits and certainly not megabits. This also means that conventional WiFi protocols won't work, so the receiver kit will need to be large and the sort of thing that you couldn't possibly pass off as serving any other purpose. Hell, you might as well fly a screw-you-government flag from a 40-foot pole outside your house.

            No. Though I am fond of the "never attribute to malice..." saying, I'm afraid I just can't believe stupidity can explain this one away.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Broadcast on a loop...

    So all the pages of Wikipedia are broadcast serially so you have to wait until the page is broadcast and have no request mechanism.

    Sounds a lot like teletext.

  7. Richard 81

    They've presumably ensured that these disposable satellites burn up completely before they hit the ground, right?

  8. Squander Two

    "a subset of the internet that will bypass censorship"

    That's actually quite funny.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Terrahawks Cubes

    That is all I have in my minds eye....

  10. Phil Standen

    Yes the UX rubbish

    But actually, we will probably learn a lot from trying to do this. So lets have a go anyway.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Yes the UX rubbish

      Been done years ago.

  11. MrXavia

    Surely it would be a lot cheaper to go the Loon route with balloons?

    Would also be a way to test the technology with being able to retrieve it for modifications.

  12. Sessile

    Two corrections

    1. CubeSats do not have to be Arduino-based, although some are, such as Ardusat.

    2. Most CubeSats do not have propulsion systems, but there are some available. Check out US propulsion company Aerojet Rocketdyne, for example.

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Steven Roper

      If you had actually bothered to contribute something to the discussion, I might have been interested to look at your book.

      Since, however, you simply chose to use the El Reg forums as a free billboard for your spam, I won't be bothering, and I suspect, neither will others here.

  14. Mage Silver badge

    OH no

    This is garbage on so many levels I can't be bothered explaining how these people are either stupid and naive or running a scam.

    ESA and SES Astra had Casablanca

    Sat@Once will send its last package of free Internet contents next Wednesday February 14, 2007, after almost 5 full years of free operation for the Satellite Internet community (we started operations on 11 March 2002 with Casablanca version 1.2).

    No-one continued with it. People wanted real interactive internet, not a Broadcast Cache.

    (I used it and they even sent me a free dish).

  15. cosymart


    I cannot get rid of the vision of an ISS astronaut opening a window and chucking a handful of small cubes out and then carefully closing the window. Bizarre :-)

  16. FuzzyTheBear

    Unfortunate ..

    By doing it with satellites that have cameras they could id the car we're in and follow us everywhere around the earth. A missed opportunity to spy on us more efficiently . Unless they already do it and i haven't heard of it yet ..

  17. Stephen Michael Kellat
    Black Helicopters

    Reinventing the wheel

    The hams actually implemented this over 20 years ago. The project's name was PACSAT where this whole idea was even piloted. It has been done, software already exists, and merely needs porting to new versions of operating systems. Go see:

    I guess all the money is just needed for building and launching?

  18. ravenviz

    Can I have my downvotes taken off now please?

  19. JeffyPoooh

    Maybe those making this proposal...

    Maybe they should look up 'Pathloss' on Wikipedia.

    "Wifi" (<- this) from LEO from a tiny, power-starved satellite? Yeah right.

  20. E 2


    Shorely you meant to say Slackware!

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