Now Chinese firm LinkSure Network has announced a system of satellites to be launched by 2026, which it wants to provide internet access across the globe, free of charge.
Called the LinkSure Swarm Constellation System, the network will be headed by the LinkSure-1 satellite launching in 2019. That will be followed by 10 more satellites by 2020, with a total of 272 satellites and data processing centers scheduled to be operational within the next eight years.
As with other proposed systems of this type – including one being tested by SpaceX – the idea is to relay internet connectivity from satellite to satellite, ultimately reaching areas that don't have the necessary ground infrastructure for high-speed web access. As long as your device can see a satellite, it'll be able to get online.
LinkSure has made its name as the developer of the Wi-Fi Master Key app, which is hugely popular in Asia for getting online securely while protecting user privacy. The team tasked with setting up the new satellite system includes members from the China Academy of Space (CASC).
According to the latest estimates, just over half of the world's population – around 4 billion people – have access to the internet.