Elon Musk has got a lot of irons in a lot of fires, from electric cars to rapid transportation systems. One of his proposed projects is a satellite network that provides internet to all four corners of the globe, and Musk's SpaceX outfit has now officially requested permission from US regulators to test it.
The so-called Spacenet infrastructure has been in the pipeline for a while, and we first caught wind of it back in November – this was followed up by a more official announcement in March of this year. Eventually, Musk wants to bring internet access to Mars as well, just so you can check in on Facebook.
The proposed network would focus on people in developing nations who don't have a local broadband exchange, and in that respect it puts the plans in direct competition with similar efforts from Google and Facebook. It would also add extra bandwidth to more developed countries too.
Surfing from space
The new filing placed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the States would enable SpaceX to test its existing batch of satellite antennas, and determine whether they're currently strong enough to send signals to and from the Earth.
If all goes to plan, test satellites could be launched as early as next year. The best estimates suggest the network itself could be up and running by 2020, provided the FCC likes the look of it.
To cut down the latency problems that dog current satellite internet services, Musk reckons he'd need around four thousand boxes in space to cover the world. He hasn't yet said how all of this is going to be paid for, but if anyone can sort out the maths, Elon Musk can.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.