nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

MARS NEEDS BROADBAND, insists Elon Musk

Presumably a slight latency problem for red planet users

By Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2015

Another day, another billionaire with a broadband-in-space plan.

Last week's unconvincing launch came from Virgin's beardy Branson, who reckons 6,498 satellites are enough to do the job of bringing broadband to the next billion.

Now Elon Musk of Tesla, SpaceX and Hyperloop fame has let Bloomberg Businessweek know that he thinks 2,000 satellites are needed to pull off the trick.

Musk's scheme supposes he can build satellites with sufficiently high capacity and low latency so that their performance at least rivals that of those using optic fibre as a carriage medium.

SpaceX will hang out the Help Wanted sign to find folks capable of designing this kind of kit.

Musk reckons it will take at least five years to get this concept anywhere near operation, but goes on to say he thinks his imagined constellation will be important for his Mars colony ambitions as the red planet will need data networks. The idea seems to be that sending satellites to Mars and hooking them into an Earth-centric network will be a faster way to bring broadband to any off-planet colony.

Beardy told Businessweek he doesn't think Musk's plan will fly, because the rival OneWeb venture he's backing will occupy the best orbital slots and has vital spectrum rights.

To which one might say: look at the scoreboard, Beardy. Musk's rockets work and, like Tesla, have (happy) paying customers. Virgin at least has network operations experience in the form of virtual mobile networks plus a stalled space program. Bets, anyone? ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing