Help Buy a Satellite to Help the Poor Get Online
A non-profit organization called A Human Right is trying to raise $150,000 to buy a communications satellite in order to provide free Internet access to millions of the poor.
Sounds like a noble goal, but also a daunting one. Fortunately, a major company (carefully left unmentioned on the BuyThisSatellite site) recently went bankrupt and wants to sell off one of its communication satellites parked in orbit. The Terrestar-1 satellite, launched in 2008, is one of the best communication satellites up there, and A Human Right wants to repurpose it to bring Internet access to needy areas.
Online access can greatly enhance education opportunities for people in third-world countries, thus increasing income and job prospects. The ByThisSatellite initiative expects to bring the Internet to millions of those people worldwide.
"The satellite was designed to support North America. We imagine we can duplicate that goal in another place," Kosta Grammatis, a representative for A Human Right, told TechNewsDaily.
Right now, the organization is asking for donations; when they have received $150,000 they will place a bid on the satellite. If that's successful, the satellite will provide a "diminished service" for free to everyone (Papua New Guinea is being considered as well as millions of people in Indonesia and African nations).
The organization also hopes to help people get on-the-ground technology for connecting to the Internet. It is already working on an open-source modem that would be cheap enough for people in third-world countries. A Human Right workers are also looking into other low-cost computing initiatives such as a $12 laptop currently being designed in India.
A Human Right plans to fund the whole operation by selling high speed bandwidth access to telecommunications companies who will then re-sell the connection to customers.
The whole thing is still in early stages and, the satellite business being what it is, shrouded in secrecy. For instance, when A Human Right asked Terrestar CTO Dennis Matheson if the satellite's orbit could even be moved to accommodate different countries, Matheson said, "Without revealing too much, yes we could. But I can't give you details."
Still, A Human Right is determined to meet their goal. Donations have begun and the company is already well on it's way to reaching $150,000.
"We've raised over $20,000 in the first week. So it won't take long!" Grammatis said.
The actual purchase and use of the Terrestar-1 satellite is still uncertain, but A Human Right workers remain optimistic.
"Ultimately we'd like to connect the world . This is just a first step towards doing that," Grammatis said.