Getting a good internet connection is still an issue all over the world. Even in places like the bay area. If places like that can’t get it right, what hope is there for a reliable connection in more rural areas? In countries without the same wealth? Or even in developing communities in the poorest places in the world? This is why things like SpaceX’s Starlink service and OneWeb’s mission are so important.
The western world has been dealing with all the issues that come with the internet for years. The physical infrastructure, the datacentres, the storage, the networking, the spotty connection issues. With all of that experience, it would be easy to assume we know how to actually do it well. Surely after this long, we’ve nailed it. It’s the best it's going to be and any improvement will be incremental from now on. But like Zipline is doing for logistics, ‘Space internet’ could be a game-changer for connectivity all over the world. The idea might be driven for the lives of underprivileged or developing countries but it will change the rest of the world too.
For Starlink, the first beta testers are out there in the wild, posting unboxing pictures and videos — it’s becoming clear that it’s going to be massive.
From a recent Bloomberg article by Dana Hull:
‘SpaceX came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century,’ said Melvinjohn Ashue, a member of the Hoh Tribe, in a short video produced by the Washington State Department of Commerce.
In a phone interview, Ashue said that the first thing he did once he connected to Starlink was download a long movie: ‘Jurassic Park’. Now most of the reservation’s households have Starlink, making it possible for families to access not just online schooling but tele-health appointments and online meetings.
I heard about Starlink when I ran into those videos but I’ve been a follower of OneWeb for over a year now. They ran into some serious trouble when investors withdrew funding at the start of the pandemic but they’ve recently come back, stronger than ever. They have multi-hundreds-of-millions of investment from various places and even the UK government have bought in. While they’re behind Starlink at the moment in terms of satellites in orbit, they’re gunning hard to catch up. I suggest we all pay attention to the race. If it turns out to be as big a hit as I think, whoever takes the majority market share will be serving the internet to everyone. Literally the whole planet.