Outernet: shortwave radio for the smartphone enabled?

There’s a new project in the works, Outernet, that aspires to bring the international accessibility of shortwave radio along with the versatility of the Internet. Outernet’s goal is stated on their website:

“By leveraging datacasting technology over a low-cost satellite constellation, Outernet is able to bypass censorship, ensure privacy, and offer a universally-accessible information service at no cost to global citizens. It’s the modern version of shortwave radio, or BitTorrent from space.”

It’s a fascinating concept: deploy low-cost, CubeSat satellites which broadcast data in a way that it should be accessible to anyone with a wi-fi enabled device such as smart phone or computer. Specifically, Outernet states that they will be using, “globally-accepted, standards-based protocols, such as DVBDigital Radio Mondiale, and UDP-based WiFi multicasting.”

(What?  Did they say Digital Radio Mondiale?  They did indeed.)

I’m all about freedom of and access to information, so I hope Outernet is successful. They’ve published an ambitious timeline with a goal of having CubeSats ready to deploy as soon as June of 2015. For more information, check out Outernet’s project page.

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2 Responses to Outernet: shortwave radio for the smartphone enabled?

  1. Michael Black says:

    They can’t use wifi as we know it. By definition wifi is license free very low power. The low power means tht the frequencies can be reused (just like cellphones) in multiple locations. Compare that with an AM broadcast station, it has a lot of range and that means the frequency can’t be used for quite a distance.

    If you use existing wifi frequencies to broadcast from a satellite, it wipes out those frequencies. They will be hitting a wide swatch of territory, making wifi unuseable. Even if wifi uses spread spectrum (I don’t know), it’s superimposing a vastly different thing on very local wifi. There’s a finite space for wifi, and using it for something like this is wasteful.

    Now, thsi project could campaign for some allocation elsewhere, but then it means special receivers. And then, how is it different from existing satellite broadcasting? It’s nto the cost of a receiver that matters, it’s the cost of the uplink transmitter(s) and the satellites, which is why one has to pay for existing satellite broadcasting.


  2. Pingback: The Outernet Lantern: a portable wireless library | The SWLing Post

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