By Greg Wyler for CNN Business Perspectives
My company, OneWeb, is focusing on what I believe is one of the world’s most pressing and fundamental issues: the need for equal access to the internet. The internet has become our economic lifeblood. And yet, nearly half the world’s population doesn’t have internet access.
Space is playing a crucial role in bridging this digital divide. OneWeb is launching 1,980 satellites to help bring internet access to people everywhere, and our first production satellites are already flying in space and have demonstrated very high download speeds.
Fiber and cable internet access technologies already permeate major cities where deployment is most financially viable. Similarly, these regions will also be the first to be served with 5G. Poor communities are the last to get connected, and without connectivity, those communities have no chance to lift themselves from poverty. OneWeb’s satellites will reach every community in the world and enable equal access to the internet for the world’s unserved and underserved.
Fifty years from the day when man first walked on the moon, we are still only approaching the possible. There will be tens of thousands of new satellites, space stations and manufacturing hubs in the coming years to bring advancements in communications, scientific research, monitoring the earth, exploring space and more.
This is exciting, but we must move carefully. The space environment around us is a pivotal resource for the future of humanity. Like our oceans and rainforests, space seems large, foreboding and infinitely strong. However, it turns out the low-earth orbit space environment is just as fragile as earth’s and, without carefully thinking it through, humanity can irreversibly destroy it — and fast.
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