Outernet Inc is a global broadcast data startup currently being incubated by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), a United States-based impact investment fund and non-profit organization established in 1995 by Saša Vu?ini? and Stuart Auerbach. Outernet’s goal is to provide free access to content from the web through geostationary and Low Earth Orbit satellites, made available effectively to all parts of the world.
The project uses datacasting and User Datagram Protocol through both small satellites, such as CubeSats, and larger, more conventional geostationary communications satellites in a satellite constellation network. Wi-Fi enabled devices would communicate with the satellite hotspots, which receive data broadcasts from satellites.
Outernet turned on their first public satellite signal on August 11, 2014. The signal transmits 200 MB per day to receivers that users are required to build. Outernet provides instructions for users to build their own receivers and encourages people to do so, then to share their results with Outernet. This first signal, which Outernet described as a “test signal,”was broadcast over Galaxy 19 and Hot Bird, covering North America, Europe, and parts of the Middle East and North Africa. The network is primarily focused on a one-way data service, with two-way traffic being a long-term goal of the company.
On October 1, 2014, Outernet released a major update accompanied by a video featuring burning books in an abandoned Detroit automotive factory. The update included a redesign of the Outernet website and the release of Whiteboard, their content suggestion platform that allows anyone to suggest a URL for broadcast. Once a URL is submitted, other visitors may vote on it with the URLs receiving the most votes entering the Outernet broadcast carousel. The Outernet broadcast is broken into three categories: the Queue, Sponsored Content, and the Core Archive. Content in the Queue is decided via votes on Whiteboard as well as requests via the Outernet Facebook page. Outernet plans to expand the avenues through which it is able to receive requests for content. Anyone can view what is being broadcast on Outernet at any time.
According to MDIF, the initial content access includes international and local news, crop prices for farmers, Teachers Without Borders, emergency communications such as disaster relief, applications and content such as Ubuntu, movies, music, games, and Wikipedia in its entirety.
Requests to NASA to use the International Space Station to test their technology were denied in June 2014 due to, as stated by a letter sent by theCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to the staff working for Outernet, both inaccuracies within the proposition, such as “it is assumed that the NanoLab housing will be provided by the CASIS program outside the budget”, and costs, ranging from $150K($150,000) to $175K($175,000). This resulted in the CASIS operations review stating in the letter that “the likelihood for mission success as proposed is not probable.”