"If you can read this you are very lucky."
On the website, they say that "Our vision is to connect all people by creating and stewarding a freely available decentralized global system of communication." Basically, they want to do something about the fact that five billion people do not have access to the internet; to that end, their latest initiative is to try and "buy a satellite and grant internet access to millions."
It's a simple enough concept. Access to information is a basic human right; the Internet is the single greatest hub of information. Put the two together: give access to the Internet to billions, using satellite technology.
As much as I admire the spirit of this enterprise, I fear they are misguided, on two fronts. One is the issue of language, and the other is that of technical feasibility.
Let me deal with the technical feasibility first. Essentially, they want to hand out modems that enable two-way internet connection via satellites. Wikipedia tells me that such modems cost between USD600~2,000. Portable ones cost even more, at between USD1,000~4,000 each. Notwithstanding the issues with lag and maximum bandwidth, this satellite system just doesn't scale. Also, it is too centralized. Under the above model, all of the internet traffic still has to go through a handful of satellites. I will come back to this point later.
Coming back to the language issue: let me ask the question, "Does it have to be the Internet?" Let me explain.
On the website they cite the following statistics:
- 83% of the world can read
- 80% of the world has access to electricity
- Only 28.7 % of the world’s population has access to the internet
- Only 4.6% of the world’s population has access to broadband internet
What I am trying to say is the following: Rather than a Super-man like 'beam down from the sky' approach, should we instead aim for a more relevant "Internet as a natural growth of local communication networks"? When I see initiatives like A Human Right, I get the impression that