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Samsung proposes a 'space internet' to meet growing data demands

Can Samsung's satellites beat Elon Musk's?

Samsung is the latest contender to enter the race to beam down internet from space, but it seems to be getting in the game pretty late. In a research paper titled Mobile Internet from the Heavens, Farooq Khan, president of Samsung research and development in Texas, proposes creating a network of 4,600 micro-satellites, to bring low-cost internet to everyone.

The proposed network of satellites could deliver internet access faster than ground-based networks, writes Khan. These micro-satellites would orbit between 160 kilometers and 2,000 kilometers in altitude and handle traffic up to a zettabyte per month, or about 200GB per month for 5 billion users.

But tech giants like Google, Facebook, OneWeb, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have also revealed plans to provide internet access via satellites, or drones and (in Google's case) balloons. Samsung’s plan most closely resembles SpaceX's proposal for satellite-based internet, but while Musk has already filed for permission to begin testing his satellites next year, Samsung has made no announcement as to their intentions beyond this research paper.

SpaceX has proposed a space internet of its own

The paper makes no effort to estimate how much money will be required to back this venture, although Khan does say that the further development of 5G communication technology will help reduce costs. Khan goes on to concede that current electronics aren't powerful enough to realize his vision, but expects the research being done on chips to eventually deliver the necessary performance.

While Khan begins discussing his vision for satellites, Google’s balloons and Facebook’s planes are already being tested. If Samsung is serious about its plans for a space internet, it may need to move more quickly.