Years ago now Google quietly announced its “Loon Balloon Project” in New Zealand. The objective was to launch high altitude balloons that could potentially float over areas of the globe that did not yet have Internet access. The tech press predicted that the idea was “loony” indeed, though some called it “crazy cool.” Google has since also dabbled with the idea of low earth orbit satellites to achieve the same goal. With the rise of SpaceX, this seems an even more interesting technological approach, though other firms in the 1990s lost large amounts of money and failed. A modest aerospace company and a subsidiary of Airbus in Toulouse France is manufacturing low-orbit internet access satellites, hoping to launch as many as 650 such satellites. The idea that is captivating me is the potential for space-based Internet access to potentially provide an alternative to growing political and corporate control and Balkanization of the Internet.
A year ago, a DDoS attack caused internet outages around the US by targeting the internet-infrastructure company Dyn, which provides Domain Name System services to look up web servers. Monday saw a nationwide series of outages as well, but with a more pedestrian cause: a misconfiguration at Level 3, an internet backbone company—and enterprise ISP—that underpins other big networks. Network analysts say that the misconfiguration was a routing issue that created a ripple effect, causing problems for companies like Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, Cox, and RCN across the country.
In an extraordinary turn of events, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission appears set to implement strong new rules, later this month to enforce Net Neutrality on the Internet. If the new rules are implemented, it will have major favorable implications for future global Internet policy with the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland. This means simply that all traffic on the Internet will be treated equally and fairly, which is one of the founding principles of the Internet, since its invention by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vin Cerf and others back in the 1980’s.