Companies to Launch Low Earth Satellite Internet Services

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed more details of his Low Earth Orbit satellite plan for broadband Internet access with the announcement of Project Kuiper, a 3,236 array of satellites. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink also recently launched a rocket with 60 satellites. These players, joined by OneWeb and others, are competing and, in the process, making LEO satellites for broadband a reality. SpaceX will first debut services in North America, with future plans to cover the planet, and Amazon has similar aspirations. Continue reading Companies to Launch Low Earth Satellite Internet Services

Facebook Confirms Plans to Create Internet-Delivery Satellite

Facebook is aiming to launch its “Athena” Internet-delivery satellite early next year for parts of the globe where traditional delivery systems such as fiber optic cables are not feasible. According to an application the company reportedly filed with the FCC under the name PointView Tech LLC, the satellite intends to “efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world.” Facebook confirmed that Athena is its project, but offered no details. Similar Internet-delivery projects are in development by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and SoftBank-backed OneWeb. Continue reading Facebook Confirms Plans to Create Internet-Delivery Satellite

Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

The EarthNow project, which plans to launch 500 small satellites to provide video coverage of the world, now has three notable investors: Airbus, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son. Satellite entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has also partnered with Airbus and SoftBank on OneWeb, another satellite Internet project, is a fourth investor. Project chief executive Russell Hannigan says EarthNow will cost more than $1 billion, but didn’t reveal tech details or a launch date. Continue reading Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

According to a knowledgeable source, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to invest about $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb. That brings SoftBank’s total investment in the company to about $1.5 billion. OneWeb is a U.S. startup focused on providing Internet connectivity worldwide that is faster than current space-based or terrestrial systems. OneWeb founder/executive chairman Greg Wyler reports that the company is currently designing and looking for suppliers for its next-generation satellites. Continue reading SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

To boost its efforts in robotics, SoftBank Group is purchasing U.S.-based Boston Dynamics from Alphabet and, as part of the deal, is also buying Schaft, a Japanese bipedal robotics company. Although terms of the deal were not revealed, SoftBank shares rose as much as 7.7 percent in Tokyo trading. According to sources, Google, which had acquired Boston Dynamics in late 2013, decided to sell it when it concluded that the company wouldn’t be likely to produce a shipping product in the next few years. Continue reading Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Over the weekend, during President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the launch of a new tech fund that has so far secured $93 billion of capital. The “SoftBank Vision Fund is targeting a total of $100 billion within six months,” reports The Wall Street Journal, and plans to “steer capital to cutting-edge technologies in U.S. startups and other global firms.” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son already promised to invest $50 billion of the new fund in American startups. Continue reading SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Facebook in Talks with Foreign Nations to Begin Drone Trials

Several tech companies want to provide Internet access to developing nations via drones, satellites and balloons, but they all face obstacles, including getting approval to operate in foreign airspace and use radio spectrum to broadcast signals to the ground. Google already conducted its first tests of Project Loon, using high-altitude balloons, and OneWeb is at work on multiple satellites to deliver the Internet from space. Now Facebook is talking to several countries to create trial Internet broadcasts from drones. Continue reading Facebook in Talks with Foreign Nations to Begin Drone Trials