In November, we reported that Elon Musk had hatched a plan to deliver Internet access to underserved regions of the globe by launching hundreds of tiny satellites into space. However, as is his wont, it turns out Musk’s scheme is actually far more ambitious.
The visionary entrepreneur will construct a second Internet in outer space -- one that could theoretically connect the 1 million colonists he’s hoping to send to Mars by century’s end in order to fend off human extinction.
The as-yet-unnamed venture would see hundreds of communication satellites orbiting 750 miles above the earth -- which could take years to construct and cost around $10 billion, Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek.
In addition to intergalactic connectivity, the network would also speed up the flow of data on our current Internet. The service “would, in theory, rival fiber optic cables on land while also making the Internet available to remote and poor regions that don’t have access,” according to the report.
Of course, Musk isn’t the only entrepreneur looking to build a space Internet. While rumors initially swirled that Musk was teaming up with former Google exec Greg Wyler to develop such satellites, it turns out the two might actually become competitors.
Last week, Wyler’s OneWeb startup -- whose mission is also to bring Internet access to people living in underserved areas -- announced that Qualcomm and the Virgin Group had come onboard as investors.
While Musk said that his satellites are more sophisticated than Wyler’s and that there should be two competing systems, OneWeb investor Richard Branson urged a more cooperative approach.
“Greg has the rights, and there isn’t space for another network,” he told Businessweek. “Like, there physically is not enough space. If Elon wants to get into this area, the logical thing for him would be to tie up with us, and if I were a betting man, I would say the chances of us working together rather than separately would be much higher.”