SpaceX and Google form joint partnership to bring Internet access to the world
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Google forge a partnership to bring Internet connectivity to the most remote places on Earth (and Mars) using satellites.
Elon Musk’s company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has raised a billion dollars in a financing round with two new investors, Google and Fidelity (who will now collectively own just less than 10 percent of the company). The deal, which SpaceX confirmed on its website, will bolster SpaceX’s emerging satellite business and could help Google expand Internet access across the globe.
The funding will be used to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing.
In its blog post, SpaceX wrote that the funding would “support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing.” However, Google’s involvement has led many to believe that the funding will primarily back SpaceX’s new satellite venture, which its founder and CEO Elon Musk announced late last week.
Musk and Google aim to connect people on Earth and Mars to the Internet!
At the time, Musk gave some indication as to the epic scope of the project that lies ahead. He seeks to create a network of hundreds of satellites that could not only connect people on Earth to the web, but also people on Mars - if and when people reach the planet. The total cost of such an audacious project has been estimated at a whopping $10 billion.
“Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Businessweek.
That, of course, is something Google - and indeed many tech giants such as Facebook - would very much like to be part of. Over the last few years, companies like Google and Facebook have turned their attention toward connecting the unconnected to the Internet. Both companies have looked to technologies such as drones, satellites, and balloons that could bring connectivity to people living in the most remote places. While benefitting rural peoples and emerging economies this would greatly expand the companies’ already enormous reach.
But recently, Google hit a major roadblock in its efforts to connect the world when Greg Wyler, who was leading its satellite efforts, left Google to launch his own venture, OneWeb. Wyler took with him expertise in the field, but also the rights to some spectrum Google would need for the project. According to sources, Wyler even tried partnering with SpaceX himself, but the deal went sour when he refused to give up a significant portion of OneWeb to Musk.
It stands to reason that Google would be on the lookout for another, well-funded partner to help realize its vision for an expanded Internet.
Of course, just because Google and SpaceX are have delivered on moonshot projects in the past doesn’t guarantee that this endeavor will be successful. Richard Branson - an investor in Wyler’s OneWeb - has publicly doubted whether Musk can pull this off.
“Greg [Wyler] has the rights, and there isn’t space for another network - like there physically is not enough space,” he told Businessweek. “If Elon wants to get into this area, the logical thing for him would be to tie up with us, and if I were a betting man, I would say the chances of us working together rather than separately would be much higher.”
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.