The Final Frontier: Internet Service Providers ... in Space?

The Final Frontier: Internet Service Providers ... in Space?

Slow internet connection these days? Fear not: a stellar solution may be coming your way.

In the last few months, a bevy of big-name entrepreneurs and companies have invested in space exploration technologies. One of their biggest plans? Creating faster, cheaper internet service here on planet Earth.

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One such investor is Elon Musk, C.E.O. and C.T.O. of Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, an American space transport services company. In January, Musk announced his plans to build a second internet in outer space by installing satellites to orbit Earth.

Musk's goal is twofold. First, he aims to bring low-cost, high-speed internet to communities across the globe, particularly in areas with poor internet connections. (Light travels faster in space than through fiber, he says.) His second, more eyebrow-raising plan is to extend this second internet to Mars, so that should humans one day colonize the planet, they'll be able to communicate with those on Earth.

"Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date," Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Meanwhile, Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb Ltd., recently introduced similar plans to build a network of satellites and bring internet access to the three billion people currently without it, all by 2018. (At this point, it's unclear whether Wyler and Musk will collaborate.)

The question is: Are these initiatives destined for failure?

After all, Musk's whole venture will run a whopping $10 billion and Wyler anticipates that his will cost between $1.5 and $2 billion. But it's worth noting that Musk has already received funding from backers including Google and Fidelity and Wyler has joined forces with Virgin Group and Qualcomm Inc.

At the same time, according to The Wall Street Journal, past satellite projects have cost even more than expected and taken longer to set up. So it remains to be seen whether these entrepreneurs' estimates for cost and time frame are way off-base.

Whether you think these ideas sound wacky or you're completely on board, you can probably take a tip from Musk and Wyler's can-do spirit. Learn more about why everyone would do well to channel their inner entrepreneur.

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