Free Internet For All

A charity group wants to buy a telecommunications satellite and reposition it over countries that currently lack Internet access.

Despite the fact that you're reading this now on your computer and/or have an iPhone or a some other smart phone that allows you web access day and night, 7 out 10 people around the world have no access to the Internet. That's about 5 billion people, according to the charity group, A Human Right, whose mission is "to improve the human condition by advocating for and safeguarding global access to information as a human right."

To address the discrepancy, founder Kosta Grammatis wants to buy a TerreStar-1 communications satellite from TerreStar, which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010.

The effort is called Buy This Satellite, and it has 3 phases: In phase 1, the group wants to raise US $150,000 in order to finalize a business plan, get legally organized to submit a bid for the satellite, and hire engineers. In phase 2, the group will, among other things, submit an official bid for the satellite, develop an open source modem and acquire an orbital slot. In phase 3, the group will move the satellite to a new orbit over partner countries and roll out service.

Although A Human Right has talked with folks from TerreStar, there is no final price tag on the satellite. The $150,000 will get the ball rolling, but the ultimate cost will likely be much higher. According to the group's website, a different satellite called an Iridium recently sold for $23 million after its parent company in 2000.

And even if the charity group can raise the necessary funds, it plans to fund the free coverage by allowing telecommunications companies to purchase and resell high-speed bandwidth. Basic Internet service will be free to all, though.

A Human Right says, "We believe that access to information and the Internet is a necessity for every global citizen and we plan to address the information inequality by making Internet access so ubiquitous you can take it for granted: Free, global, seamless connectivity."

Photo: TerreStar