Will Google join SpaceX to offer cheap space-based internet to Earth and Mars?
Google is said to be finalising a $1 billion investment in a venture by Elon Musk, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, to launch hundreds of satellites to provide cheap and fast internet access across the globe – and maybe Mars.
According to Businessweek, Musk describes this system’s initial goal as to act as “a giant global Internet service provider”.
Light travels approximately 35% slower through fibre cables than it does through space, meaning that ideally this initiative should provide much higher internet speeds.
However internet speed via satellite is still much slower than fibre optics, as it is slightly hindered by an effect known as latency. This has to do with the distance a signal has to travel from Earth to reach the satellite.
Nevertheless, if the latency can be reduced, the SpaceX initiative could provide extremely fast, as well as very cheap internet to the entire globe. This could help serve the three billion people in the world who have minimal or no access to the internet, due to high costs and poor infrastructure. As for those who are simply tired of internet service providers, SpaceX satellite internet could prove to be an attractive alternative.
If Jessica Lessin of The Information, is right and Google is nearing a major investment in Musk’s SpaceX satellites, it is sure to boost the company’s productivity and fast-track the construction of Musk’s fleet of internet satellites.
However, his plans are not limited to Earth. Musk wants to use the satellites as a basis for a system that will extend all the way to Mars, where he plans to build and eventually live in a colony.
“It will be important for Mars to have a global communications network as well,” he told Businessweek. “I think this needs to be done, and I don’t see anyone else doing it.”
Perhaps the best way to incentivise the colonisation of Mars is to offer people Netflix.