Billionaire Elon Musk's plan to create super-fast global internet coverage - CNBC Africa

Billionaire Elon Musk's plan to create super-fast global internet coverage CNBC

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by Arjun Kharpal | @ArjunKharpal 0

Photo: Shutterstock

Elon Musk's SpaceX wants to launch thousands of satellites into space with the aim of providing super-fast global internet coverage, according to a regulatory filing.

SpaceX – the company on a mission to colonize Mars – outlined plans to put 4,425 satellites into space in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing from earlier this week.

That's three times the 1,419 satellites that are currently in space, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a not-for-profit group made up of scientists across the world.

Billionaire Musk – who is also the chief executive of electric car company Tesla – first announced plans for the project in 2015, with an estimated cost of around $10 billion. The FCC filing did not outline the financials of the project.

The plan is to launch 800 satellites initially to expand internet in the U.S. And then the rest of the satellites would follow, although there was no timeline for the launch.

"The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, government and professional users worldwide," SpaceX said in the FCC filing.

SpaceX's satellites will orbit at altitudes between 1,150 kilometers and 1,275 kilometers, allowing each one to cover a space of around 2,120 kilometers wide. According to the official filing, each satellite will weigh around 850 pounds and be the size of a small car.

Once "fully optimized", the system will be able to provide bandwith of 1 gigabytes per second for users globally. That's over 180 times faster than the current global internet speed average of 5.6 megabytes per second which was recorded in the Akamai State of the Internet report at the end of last year.

Reports earlier this year suggested Google and Fidelity had invested $1 billion into SpaceX to support the satellite project.

SpaceX is not the only company with such ambitions. Boeing has filed an FCC application to also launch satellites while OneWeb, a company backed by Airbus, is also planning a similar project.

 

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