With a general decline in the number of shortwave broadcast stations over recent years we’ve been watching the progress of Outernet with mixed feelings recently. For those that haven’t heard of the grand project that is Outernet here is a quick run down.
Outernet’s plan is to develop a network of cube satellites that span the entire earth and deliver global coverage of content to anybody with compatible hardware capable of decoding the signal (DVB dongles etc).
Short term goals are just to provide broadcast content but they also have more long term aspirations of giving the entire earth free internet access!. The technology to get this system up and running already exists, its just a matter of Outernet getting the connectivity and the scaling right.
If the system takes off the potential reach would be amazing in terms of the sheer numbers of listeners alone even before you take into account what free anywhere, anytime internet would do for communications in some of the worlds poorer regions but we do wonder how this would effect the growing mobile internet industry.
Building a system that lets people in underdeveloped countries access the internet is obviously a good idea but what if that free system is almost on a level to the mobile internet we pay for every month, wouldn’t you be tempted to give it a go.
Radio vs Internet
The internet in our opinion has always been a double edged sword for radio hobbies in general with a decline in the numbers of people coming into the various hobbies on the bad side but the internet delivering a wealth of data at our fingertips that go’s a long way to making these hobbies easier on the good side. No more keeping huge lists of frequencies and other information when everything can be looked up online so easily is just a single benefit out of the many the internet brings radio hobbyists.
Outernet seem to be heading toward community choices when it comes to the actual content it relays to listeners and at this early stage we can only guess what this will bring in terms of quality and diversity. Whichever way you look at it this could generate a huge audience for any broadcaster which could very well drive another nail into the coffin of shortwave radio broadcast media transmissions.
Should we be worried about less choice in the broadcast material available or accept that times and technology are moving on with content just being moved onto more advanced platforms?
The Outernet website makes for interesting reading and can be found at www.outernet.is, we recommend a look at their forum too where everything from the more technical aspects of the project itself to the increase in space junk by launching so many satellites is discussed.