UK, December 17, 2016.- They say that the fourth industrial revolution is the one we are living thanks to the Internet. But on the verge of reaching 2017, I ask myself this question: Is the Internet a Universal Public Service or a Private Service ?. I refer to the Internet as a right more than we have the human beings that we live on Planet Earth. And this doubt arises when I read information like the following in The Guardian:
“The Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, is planning to put more than 4,000 satellites in orbit in order to blanket the Earth with internet access. SpaceX, the privateer space company led by Musk, is requesting permission from the US government to operate a massive network of 4,425 satellites – plus “in-orbit spares” – to provide high-speed, global internet coverage. Documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday propose an initial launch of 800 satellites to create an orbiting digital communications array to cover the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. In the filing, SpaceX said: “The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, government and professional users worldwide.” Such a system would provide a space-based alternative to cable, fiber-optics and the other terrestrial internet access currently available. SpaceX is not the first to propose such a system. Similar internet-via-satellite networks are under development by privately owned OneWeb and by Boeing, while a $200m satellite leased by Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, which has a similar goal of providing global internet access, was destroyed in an explosion of the SpaceX launch vehicle contracted to send it into órbita. Each satellite SpaceX proposes to put into orbit, without its solar panels extended, is the size of an average car, measuring 4m by 1.8 by 1.2m and weighing 386kg. SpaceX has not set a date for the satellite launches, but said that they would orbit in a range between 714 miles and 823 miles above the Earth. It gained $1bn in funding from Google for the project. Google has been attempting to perform a similar feat, blanketing the globe in internet access, using high-altitude balloons. Facebook’s other internet initiatives have revolved around the use of high-altitude solar-powered drones. SpaceX operates a satellite launching business, with contracts with Nasa for supplying the International Space Station – the first privateer space firm to do so. But its rocket launches have been on hiatus since 1 September following the Falcon 9 booster explosión”.
Internet already divides us. Those who have access to the Internet, understand it, manage it and use its full potential access to the knowledge society. However, in addition to asking questions about Internet ownership, whether or not it is a universal public service, there can also be an ultra fast internet with a high price.
The fourth industrial revolution is one of the greatest transformations of the human being, without a doubt. That’s what they’ll see in 50 or 100 years. But there are some rhetorical questions that we need answers today.