Samsung is mulling over a ‘space internet’ network consisting of 4,600 micro-satellites that could act as backhaul for terrestrial cellular networks and bring low-cost internet to “everyone in the world”.
The proposal is contained in an academic research paper by president of Samsung R&D America Farooq Khan.
The idea follows Google, which has separate proposals for satellite and balloon-based internet – SpaceX, OneWeb and Internet.org.
Samsung’s own proposal is partly driven by fears that initiatives to solve mobile data traffic growth won’t be cost effective.
“By the year 2028, both cellular and wi-fi will be carrying data traffic in excess of one zetabyte/ month,” Khan said.
“Our goal here is to design a space internet with similar capacity. This space internet can then provide backhaul for cellular and wi-fi as well as direct communication with the satellite connecting the world’s population currently without internet access.
“With the satellite-based backhaul, cellular and wi-fi deployments become practical in remote regions of the earth where there is no wired Internet infrastructure.”
Khan’s plan is to send about ,4600 micro-satellites into low earth orbit – in a range between 160km and 2000km in altitude.
The sheer number of satellites is required to ensure continuity of service.
Each satellite needs to be capable of data rates of at least one Terabit/s “or higher”.
Khan said that the response times for traffic “to go halfway around earth” would be similar for space internet and fibre optic links.
If it worked then Samsung’s vision could offer 200GB/month for five billion users worldwide with signal latencies comparable to those offered by ground based systems.