Elon Musk, founder of high-end electric car company Tesla Motors and private space transport firm SpaceX announced plans to launch micro-satellites that will provide low-cost Internet access.
The plan is still in its “early stages” according to a tweet from the South African-born, Canadian inventor who is also co-founder of the online payment company PayPal.
SpaceX is still in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations. Announcement in 2 to 3 months.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2014
When asked on Twitter if his plans were “about free and unfettered Internet access for the masses,” Musk tweeted “unfettered certainly and at a very low cost.”
The majority of people who do not have Internet access come from Africa, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with telecommunications issues.
By the end of 2014, there will be almost three billion Internet users globally, ITU estimated. However, more than 90 per cent of people who are not yet using the Internet come from developing regions.
In Africa, only 20 per cent of the population will be using the Internet by the end 2014. By contrast, close to two out of three people will be using the Internet by the end of the year, said ITU.
There are a number of projects that aim to provide Internet access to underserved areas.
Earlier this year, search engine company Google Inc., said that it will launch a fleet of 700 low-orbit compact satellites to build a network that will provide wireless broadband Internet access to some 4.8 billion people that still do not have Internet access.
The report said work to develop the technology is being done by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite communications firm, O3b Networks. Wyler had recently joined Google.
Google also has Project Loon which involves creating an Internet network with the use of high-flying balloons.
Social media company Facebook has plans of its own to provide Internet access to other regions of the world without broadband. The company’s plan involves using drones.