Telecommunications

LinkSure is building a satellite network to provide global internet access for free

LinkSure is building a satelli...
LinkSure is aiming to have 272 satellites and data processing centers operational within the next eight years
LinkSure is aiming to have 272 satellites and data processing centers operational within the next eight years
View 3 Images
LinkSure Network says it's on a mission to bridge "digital inequalities" with its global satellite network
1/3
LinkSure Network says it's on a mission to bridge "digital inequalities" with its global satellite network
The LinkSure Swarm Constellation System was announced at an industry conference in Beijing
2/3
The LinkSure Swarm Constellation System was announced at an industry conference in Beijing
LinkSure is aiming to have 272 satellites and data processing centers operational within the next eight years
3/3
LinkSure is aiming to have 272 satellites and data processing centers operational within the next eight years

It's easy to take web access for granted, but in many regions getting online isn't as simple as just opening up a browser window. Now Chinese firm LinkSure Network has announced a system of satellites to be launched by 2026, which it wants to provide internet access across the globe, free of charge.

Called the LinkSure Swarm Constellation System, the network will be headed by the LinkSure-1 satellite launching in 2019. That will be followed by 10 more satellites by 2020, with a total of 272 satellites and data processing centers scheduled to be operational within the next eight years.

As with other proposed systems of this type – including one being tested by SpaceX – the idea is to relay internet connectivity from satellite to satellite, ultimately reaching areas that don't have the necessary ground infrastructure for high-speed web access. As long as your device can see a satellite, it'll be able to get online.

LinkSure has made its name as the developer of the Wi-Fi Master Key app, which is hugely popular in Asia for getting online securely while protecting user privacy. The team tasked with setting up the new satellite system includes members from the China Academy of Space (CASC).

LinkSure Network says it's on a mission to bridge "digital inequalities" with its global satellite network
LinkSure Network says it's on a mission to bridge "digital inequalities" with its global satellite network

According to the latest estimates, just over half of the world's population – around 4 billion people – have access to the internet.

Being able to get online for free would make a huge difference to many remote and developing parts of the planet, but the cost would have to be met somehow. LinkSure says partnerships and applications will provide funding – so web surfers may well have to use LinkSure apps to get online and put up with some advertising at the same time.

All those details are still to be confirmed, but LinkSure says the overall cost of the project is going to be in the region of 3 billion yuan (US$432 million).

As we've already mentioned, LinkSure isn't the first company to come up with the idea of providing internet access from low orbit. Google's Project Loon continues to expand across the globe, using specially designed hot air balloons to bring internet access to remote regions of the world.

Facebook is also exploring the feasibility of setting up satellites to get more parts of the globe connected – and on Facebook – having ditched its original idea of using autonomous drones to beam internet down to communities below.

It seems that if you're in a part of the world without a reliable internet connection, you might soon have a choice of satellite networks to hook up to to get your online fix.

Source: LinkSure Network

9 comments
paul314
Half a billion dollars (plus operations costs and satellite replacement) is quite a bit for someone to pay for "free" internet. I wonder what their business model will eventually be.
Alien
There is no such thing as a 'free lunch', so what's in it for them? Clearly the initial cost will be enormous, so should users expect advertising...or monitoring by Chinese government 'authorities'? Obviously this is also another way to extend Chinese influence into many currently neglected corners of the world but I would guess this would be only part of the 'payback' for giving such costly service as a free gift!
Derek Howe
If it's anything like the Chinese internet...I'll pass. I'd rather pay a monthly bill, then only get the "Xi approved" websites.
Wombat56
LinkSure is a Chinese company so I'm sure their Wi-Fi app for protecting users' privacy is REALLY secure. /s
Rustin Lee Haase
"Free" internet for everyone. ..not including the "libre" type of "Free" I'm sure. As admiral Akbar once said long ago in a galaxy far far away..."It's a Trap!!".
Derek Howe
Free Chinese censored internet...umm, no thanks, I'll pay for the real deal.
Mr T
Given it's a Chinese company, you can be absolutely sure this will involve data gathering by their network, you would be crazy to do anything you didn't want snooped on over this network.
nehopsa
So they want half a world behind Great Firewall. Chinese government will happily subsidize all of it I am sure. (You can see implementation of "social credit" system aka REAL big brother already, if you are inquisitive, there are things on it on the Net now. Those "disruptive opinions" will disappear on the "free" system going by the principle of unanimous voting/perception management.) One more part of Belt and Road to expand Chinese influence. In the end it will cost...a lot. Similar underhand deal as that access through Facebook only project.
highlandboy
Just think of the captive market if they only have Chinese commercial sites available. This sounds like astute business practice to me.