New Picture 149
The Outernet: Free Internet From Outer Space?
By KeriLynn Engel,
Who Is Hosting This, 26 August 2014.

The invention of Internet has ushered in a revolution: a new information age that has changed the way we live our lives day-to-day.

Internet users now have access to resources and information that were out of reach before, with the ability to access almost unlimited knowledge online. Those who had no voice can now share their opinions with a global audience, and those who can’t afford higher education can now attend free courses online from schools like MIT or Harvard.

If you’re reading this now, you’re reaping the benefits of the new information age. But you’re in the minority: only about 35% of the world’s population has reliable, unrestricted Internet access.

The rest are being left behind. Access to the Internet has been deemed so important, the UN Human Rights Council has declared Internet access a basic human right. They know what a difference in quality of life it makes: households without Internet access lag behind in income, employment, and other areas.

How do we bring this basic right to the billions of people around the world who lack it?

An organization called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) has begun to work on a solution that will freely broadcast information around the globe in a modern version of shortwave radio.

The broadcasts will be sent from space using a network of mini-satellites called Cubesats, which measure only about 10 cm (4 inches) across. The first prototype is set to launch in January 2015, and if all goes according to plan, the network could be in place as early as June 2015.

Since the information is all one-way, users in censored countries can bypass censorship while retaining their privacy. Users who are barred from the Internet due to high monthly costs or lack of infrastructure can receive the broadcasts for free on smartphones, Raspberry Pi mini-computers, Linux-compatible tuners, and other inexpensive mobile devices. In the future, the network could be used to provide complete Internet access around the globe.

With the success of the Outernet, the information age revolution will spread beyond a privileged minority to the rest of the globe. The Outernet project is one step forward in spreading basic human rights around the globe, and bringing humanity closer together than it’s ever been before.

Outernet Infographic
Infographic courtesy of Who Is Hosting This

Top image via Globe Backyard.

[Source: Who Is Hosting This. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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