One man's plan for free Internet for the world, via satellite
Kosta Grammatis, CEO and founder of ahumanright.org, sees having an Internet connection as a basic human right. Grammatis is raising $150,000 to buy an orbiting satellite from a bankrupt company. He's looking for donors and partners.
One man's bankrupt satellite company is another man's opportunity to spread free Internet across the world. That's the hope of Kosta Grammatis, CEO and founder of ahumanright.org, who sees having an Internet connection as a basic necessity — in fact, a human right — for every global citizen.Skip to next paragraph
Grammatis is raising $150,000 to create a business plan for buying a communications satellite and moving it to a new orbital slot to provide free Internet service to developing countries. He has his sights set on the TerreStar-1 satellite: a spacecraft the size of a school bus that launched in 2009 and is owned by a company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.
The idea of making free Internet available to all may sound like a pipe dream, but Grammatis has the right combination of technical background and ambition for the job. His resume includes working as an engineer for private spaceflight company SpaceX, as well as creating a bionic eye camera to transform a one-eyed filmmaker into "Eyeborg."
Grammatis and his team plan to pay the bills by allowing telecommunications companies to buy and resell high-speed bandwidth, even as they provide a slower connection speed for free to everyone. They have also begun to develop an open-source, low-cost modem that could provide developing countries with their link to the satellite and the rest of the world.
To achieve this dream, ahumanright.org launched a "Buy This Satellite" initiative on a new website.
Q: SPACE.com: What are the basic goals of ahumanright.org?
Grammatis: ahumanright is charged with promoting Internet access as a human right. The organization also promotes endeavors that can ensure everyone has a chance to get online. We try to do this in three different ways:
- Connect with businesses and governments and discuss the creation of a "free" segment to their networks
- We have been envisioning our own free network with our friends at NASA and other industry experts
- We attempt to buy and re-purpose underutilized infrastructure to bring free Internet to the people
SPACE.com: How much geographical coverage can TerreStar-1 provide in terms of Internet? Could it provide service to all of Africa?
Grammatis: Currently it can cover all of America, southern Canada and northern Mexico. Not entirely Africa.
SPACE.com: What considerations are going into the choice of where to park the satellite? How will you weigh public or donor opinions?
Grammatis: That is a very complicated question that has no simple answer.
SPACE.com: How much do you envision the open-source, low-cost modem might cost?
Grammatis: We're aiming for less than $100, but that's dependent on a lot of factors.
SPACE.com: Do you have any business partners or larger-scale funders in mind?
Grammatis: Plenty. Google comes to mind first, Richard Branson second. People and organizations who like taking big risks and doing things that have a lot of positive impact.
SPACE.com: Are there any possible plans to repeat this process for other satellites, if this ultimately proves successful?
Grammatis: Already in the works! We've got another collaboration coming together that should be announced soon if things go as planned.
To contribute to "Buy This Satellite's" goal of raising $150,000, go here.
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