The Shape of Internet to Come


You’ve probably seen the news reports of Google launching long-lasting stratospheric balloons to create internet accessibility for Africa and the world. Recently Google announced that it would be putting its money behind Elon Musk’s USD10-billion plan to create a network of low-altitude satellites for the same purpose. Another major backer is US investment firm, Fidelity.

Now a competitor in this space has launched an alternative project: OneWeb, founded by Greg Wyler, who brought internet fibre optic and 3G connectivity to Rwanda way back in 2002, when ADSL was first being launched in SA.

OneWeb aims to put a network of satellites into orbit at about 750km above sea-level, which would be close enough to minimise lag. The satellites themselves would communicate with each other via laser instead of radio — much like fibre optic, without the fibre.

Virgin Galactic has announced that it will back the OneWeb venture. Wyler’s vision will cost one fifth of Elon Musk’s — but just who will actually get off the ground remains to be seen. Either way, it heralds a future where internet is fast, cheap and ubiquitous, even in remote areas: something that Africa desperately needs.

Read more about it here.