科学美国人:Rival Space Internets Vie for Sky Pie

60秒科学节目(SSS)是科学美国人网站的一套广播栏目,英文名称:Scientific American - 60 Second Science,节目内容以科学报道为主,节目仅一分钟的时间,主要对当今的科学技术新发展作以简明、通俗的介绍,对于科学的发展如何影响人们的生活环境、健康状况及科学技术,提供了大量简明易懂的阐释。

About half the world’s population doesn’t have access to the Internet, for a variety of reasons. Now two prominent entrepreneurs say they’ll address the tech issues contributing to this digital divide.

SpaceX’s Elon Musk wants to launch a new $15-billion constellation of mini communications satellites into near-Earth orbit to provide fast, low-cost and more comprehensive global Internet coverage.

Communications satellites generally operate from geosynchronous orbit some 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. The Musk satellites would transfer data packets only 750 miles up, through the planet’s exosphere, rather than via a tangle of terrestrial networks. If successful, the new network could rival fiber optic cable service speeds and be available in currently poorly served areas.

That is, if rival tech mogul Greg Wyler doesn’t get there first, with his OneWeb venture. Wyler appears to have a leg up with his proposed 648–micro satellite network: he claims to own access to the spectrum frequency needed to communicate in low Earth orbit.

Internet satellite ventures do not have a good track record and it’s not clear that there’s room for two distinct networks. The bet here is that that two billionaires eventually team up and divide the pie in the sky.

—Larry Greenemeier

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