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ACTUALITY

They said it couldn’t be done: Space internet

U.S. astronaut Ron Garan, crew member of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, takes a photo of himself by mobile phone prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Tuesday, April 5, 2011.
AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky
More space internet = more space selfies.
  • Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Can a swarm of low-flying satellites connect the 60% of humans who don’t have internet access?

The dream of a totally connected world is still out of reach. The first tech bubble produced schemes to link the world with satellite internet, but they failed spectacularly. Now, companies like OneWeb and SpaceX want to try again—do they stand a chance?

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This week’s episode explores the race for satellite internet. We speak to telecom entrepreneur Greg Wyler, the founder and chairman of OneWeb, about his company’s plans to launch hundreds of new internet satellites. We also spoke to Dziffa-Akua Ametam, who operates an e-commerce company in Ghana, about what cheaper, faster internet could mean in her country. Tim Farrar, a satellite industry consultant, shared his expertise and an inside look at the failed satellite efforts of the 1990s.

After you listen to this episode, give us some clues for what you want to see in future episodes. Who else is doing the impossible? Tell us on twitter, or e-mail us.

Actuality is a joint production of Quartz and Marketplace. Every two weeks, we’ll explore the inner workings of the new global economy, combining the best of our economic smarts.

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