Samsung Research Exec Proposes Huge Satellite Internet Constellation

A new paper from Farooq Khan, President of Samsung R&D America in Dallas, Texas, proposes a constellation of Samsung satellites orbiting the Earth, providing unlimited mobile internet worldwide, ExtremeTech reports.

The paper, titled “Mobile Internet from the Heavens,” is freely available on arXiv. “Almost two-thirds of the humankind currently does not have access to the Internet, wired or wireless,” says Khan.

We present a Space Internet proposal capable of providing Zetabyte/ month capacity which is equivalent to 200GB/month for 5 Billion users Worldwide.

A Space Internet Powered by 4,600 LEO Satellites by 2028

Space InternetThe proposal is based on deploying thousands of low-cost micro-satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), each capable of providing Terabit/s data rates with signal latencies better than or equal to ground based systems. “We believe that our Space Internet proposal will bring us one step closer to connect and empower the whole humankind,” says Khan.

It’s interesting to speculate on who is “we.” Is the paper just a personal proposal from Khan, or should it be taken as an indication that Samsung is working on the Space Internet plan? The paper just says “The author would like to thank his colleagues at Samsung for valuable discussions and feedback. However, it seems likely that this paper from a Samsung research exec is not entirely unrelated to the tech giant’s plans.

The paper proposes a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite system capable of carrying a total at least one Zetabyte/ month data traffic by employing thousands of high capacity micro-satellites, each operating at Tb/s or higher data rates. LEO is more convenient that the Geo-Stationary Orbit (GEO) used by most telecom satellites, because it reduces signal propagation time, latency, and power requirements. However, a LEO satellite isn’t in a fixed position with respect to the Earth and doesn’t stay above a given place for too long. Therefore, the Space Internet plan requires a fleet of thousands of satellites.

The system will require about 4,600 satellites to carry Zetabyte/ month data traffic.

With this large number of satellites needed to meet the goal, our motivation for low-cost micro-satellites with lower development and launch costs become even more apparent

While Khan doesn’t propose a specific development timeline, he notes that by 2028 both cellular and Wi-Fi will be carrying data traffic in excess of one Zetabyte/ month, and hints at 2028 as a suitable launch date. Of course, development work should start much sooner.

Khan manages Samsung research in the areas of wireless communications and mobile services.

ExtremeTech notes that other companies including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s OneWeb have considered similar plans to deliver global Internet connectivity via LEO satellite constellations.

Images from Farooq Khan and Shutterstock.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.