This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
More reliable than underwater cables, easily expandable, and capable of almost limitless communication – that’s the promise of a new nano satellite-based network being developed by Israeli satellite startup SkyFi.
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“Not only will we be able to develop a worldwide Internet, we will be able to enable any type of communication between two points – telephone, digital, and even television – with the satellite network we are planning to put in space,” said Raz Itzhaki Tamir, co-founder and CEO of SkyFi.
Based in Tel Aviv, SkyFi, which recently presented its technology for the first time publicly at Microsoft Think Next, announced that it had raised $3 million in an investment round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners, one of Israel’s leading venture capital firms. Liberty Israel Venture Fund, a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation, also participated in the round.
Though the Internet reaches around the world, there are still some 4 billion people who are not online because they live in rural areas where there are no connections, either wired or wireless. Providing access to those areas has become an important goal for both Google and Facebook, both of which are spending hundreds of millions on systems that will bring Internet access to far-flung areas via drone or balloons.
Satellites have been out of the question, though; at $60 million each, putting up a network of satellites for worldwide Internet access would be too expensive.
Enter SkyFi, the brainchild of Tamir, a former director of nano satellite technology at Israel Aerospace Industries, among other things.
“We are planning to launch 60 nano-satellites that will cover the entire planet, working together in constellation that will offload tasks to each other as needed,” said Tamir. “Each satellite will cost a million dollars, so 60 nano-satellites will cost the same as one full-sized satellite, with the advantage of being able to spread them around the globe and connect them in a network that can work together.”
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Photos: Taavi Torim