Paypal founder – and billionaire – Elon Musk might have some friendly help in his plan to build a 4,000 satellite constellation to girdle the Earth. Google is widely reported to be considering an investment in the scheme. The plan would see a broadband Internet service available to just about anyone on the planet.
Musk’s plan is – at best – embryonic, and as yet he has no frequency rights. Musk says he has submitted the scheme to international regulators to seek bandwidth for the project.
He is planning to build a high-tech satellite building factory in Seattle and is only just starting employing staff.
Meanwhile, Richard Branson and Qualcomm’s founder and CEO Paul Jacobs are investing in a rival scheme. Greg Wyler’s Channel Islands-based WorldVu is planning a more modest 648 satellite plan (‘OneWeb’) that will also circle the planet and is likely to be partly in place by 2018. Wyler does have frequencies allocated. Branson’s Virgin Galactic space-plane will launch the satellites.
Giles Thorne, a telecommunications analyst at investment banking Jefferies, in a note to clients said a partnership between Google and Musk’s SpaceX makes sense. Google has already invested in other technologies, including fleets of drones and balloons, that could one day expand Internet service to remote parts of the planet.