About a year ago Kosta Grammatis contacted Microwave Journal about satellite and communications experts he might contact to start an effort to supply Internet to everyone in the world for free. A huge challenge but a great idea and if anyone can pull it off, he can. He is now part of BuyThisSatellite.org which says it'll take $150,000 in contributions to take the first step toward a successful bid on the bankrupt Terrestar-1 satellite (they will probably need over 10 times that much to purchase the satellite plus costs to supply modems and maintain the whole system). After obtaining the satellite, they plan to move its orbit to point over a poor country in order to supply Internet access for free.
The group also plans to manufacture and distribute cheap satellite modems to get people hooked up on the ground. A lot of other things will have to be overcome but countries like Papua New Guinea—which has an open orbital "slot" which the Terrestar-1 could move into—only has Internet access for 2.1% of its population and would be the first to benefit from this effort. Terrestar-1 is a school bus-sized satellite (launched in 2009) that is for sale as its corporate owner is going bankrupt. But rather than let it go to waste, this non-profit is raising money to re-purpose it as a free Internet provider for the poor.
The organization believes that "Internet access is a tool that allows people to help themselves - a tool so vital that it should be considered a universal human right. Imagine your digital life disconnected. Without access to the 100 million man-hours that have been put into Wikipedia, how much do you actually know? Without your contacts online social networks how much can you accomplish? Without access to the news, weather, your bank account-- how in charge of your life are you?The Internet has transformed what it means to be human - we are now more connected to one another than ever before. Yet, over 5 billion people do not have access to this incredible invention, do not have a voice in the global dialog, or the opportunity to share ideas and learn from the Internet's ever-expanding knowledge pool.We believe that access to information and the Internet is a necessity for every global citizen and We plan to address the information inequality by making Internet access so ubiquitous you can take it for granted: Free, global, seamless connectivity."
They have a concrete plan spelled out on their web site:
Our goal is to raise $150,000 USD to do the following: 1. Finalize a business plan for large scale funders. 2. Process the legal and business aspects of submitting a bid for the satellite. 3. Hire several full-time engineers to make our calculations and planning into a concrete reality. While this work is in process we will meet with investors, businesses, governments, and foundations who are interested in funding the purchase of Terrestar-1. Partnerships will be created with the country or countries over which the satellite will be positioned. When our plan is funded we will.
1. Make an official bid for the Terrestar-1 satellite. 2. Begin development of an open source low cost modem. 3. Acquire an orbital slot (satellite parking spot) and spectrum (radio wave allocation). 4. Finalize plans with partner governments. 5. Continue all of the technical work required to reposition a satellite.When all of these details are finalized we will continue,
1. Move the satellite to a new orbit over our partner country/countries. 2. Distribute low cost modems. 3. Roll out service.
They are asking for donations so if you agree that this is a worthy cause, please visit their website at http://www.buythissatellite.org/.