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Apple could launch satellite-based internet services

Apple’s recent hires hint at the company’s interest in satellite-powered internet delivery service.

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Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have been working on different and innovative ways to provide internet connectivity to people. Interestingly, all three have taken the aerial route through Project Loon, Aquila and White Space respectively. One of the missing names in this initiative has been Apple. But it appears Apple also wants to explore this segment and is reportedly going to invest in satellite-based internet services.

According to a report on Bloomberg, Apple has hired Alphabet’s John Fenwick, who was spearheading Google’s spacecraft operators, and Michael Trela, who was the head of satellite engineering. Trela will be joining a new team led by Dropcam co-founder Greg Duffy, who is also an ex-Alphabet (Google) employee. Duffy had departed from Google in 2015 after Nest took over Dropcam.

The report though does not elaborate how Apple’s new team will function but looking at the profiles of the employees hired, it’s pretty clear about where the company is headed. It may be recalled that Fenwick was one of the founders of SkyBox Imaging, a satellite company which was acquired by Google in 2014. Planet Labs acquired the company in February this year.

With Google seemingly lesser interested in the satellite business, Apple may have seen a window of opportunity to tap the segment, which is yet to go commercial in the world. That being said, Apple hasn’t had a history of working on such technologies, whereas rivals like Google, Microsoft and Facebook have reached an advanced stage of making their internet delivery services available to users in the near future. ALSO READ: Facebook’s internet drone ‘Aquila’ crash-landed due to strong winds: Report

Facebook’s Aquila is a drone-based internet delivery service whereas Google is working on Project Loon, where it will be providing the internet through balloons. Google has also begun pilot tests in some of the markets. Facebook is also working on its Express Wi-Fi project whereas Google is also going big on its Fiber Net plans. Microsoft, on the other hand, is exploring the White Space technology under which it aims to utilize the unused UHF and VHF spectrum.

The latest development comes shortly after telecom consultant Tim Farrar claimed Apple was working with Boeing to deliver the internet through low-orbit satellites. That being said, Apple will not be alone in its venture of satellite-based internet delivery service. According to recent reports, Tesla sought permission for satellite-powered internet service under which it would send more than 4,000 satellites in space to offer connectivity. ALSO READ: Elon Musk says satellite Internet plan could stretch till Mars, will cost 10 billion dollars

  • Published Date: April 24, 2017 2:49 PM IST