Outernet Lantern is a satellite receiver, solar-powered aimed at bringing digital content to emulate the Internet (but only one-way direction) to unconnected parts of the world. Outernet Lantern only can download information from the satellite recreating an “offline Internet” that is supposed to bring digital information to unconnected parts of the world to benefit education, health, disaster response, etc. The device then acts like a Wi-Fi router so that many devices can connect and share and download the information. Outernet Lantern operates without any internet connection since the information (digital content) is upload it to the satellites which then can be download it by receivers anywhere in the world free of charge. As mentioned, the service is only accessible in regions where the satellite’s signal can be received and where there is electrical power to enable any form of receivers. Outernet claims to have coverage over 99% of humans on Earth with 1 GB per day.
Outernet is a service that offers a one-way communication of digital content that would normally be found online. However, Outernet’s main business is the receivers (L-band hardware solutions). Outernet provides other hardware solution aside from Lantern (turn-key solution) and previously offered the modular Lighthouse (requires a dish and low noise block) and the Tuner for Raspberry Pi (requires a Raspberry Pi, dish and low noise block). At the moment they only offer DIY RECEIVER which is do-It-Yourself RTL-SDR radio hardware used in Outernet Lantern.
Outernet is based out of Chicago, Illinois, USA
Outernet has a worldwide target audience, but is limited to certain regions of the world due to gaps in satellite coverage and limited access to electrical power.
Outernet manufactures and distributes the hardware products though their online webpage. Outernet also manages the uploaded content to support their mission of improving information access in the unconnected parts of the world.
The downloadable media content is free of charge.
A L-band hardware product, the Lantern, will be available soon (as of August 2016) for a cost of $169 USD). Outernet plans to reduce that cost to $50 USD through reducing non-critical functionality. interview with representative
Previously available products include:
The Lighthouse was $99 USD. The Outernet Tuner for Rasperberry Pi was $35 USD. These products are not longer available.
Other offline internet hardware devices like BRCK. Other traditional competitors include newspapers, television networks, radio stations and other media outlets.
Goal 16 and specifically “access to information” is the most applicable goal, however availability of information can promote all of the SDGs.
Individuals, households, communities and public and private sector organizations, etc.
As of August 2016, Outernet is working on the manufacturing of the Lantern to reduce costs.
Media content is shared with end-users from Outernet partners.
As of August 2016, Outernet has applied for several patents. Outernet has developed a proprietary decoder application and the Lantern hardware solution. interview with representative
Users can buy Lantern directly on their website. Access to the information service can be done with specific satellite receivers.
Unknown. However, as of August 2016, Outernet has distributed a couple thousand receivers with expectations that the release of the Lantern will quickly surpass this. interview with representative
Type of telecommunication service provided (Mobile Internet, Fixed Internet, Satellite service, other)
Service needed for the product to work (Mobile data, SMS, voice, satellite, other)
(Smartphone, feature phone, computer, tablet, other (specify), none)
Is a fixed connection needed for the product to work?
Max number of connected devices at the same time.
(Uninterrupted prower supply (UPS), ocassional power supply [minimum time required], other)
Average jitter and packet loss to download/upload information
Network connectivity, education, behavior change, other
Outernet uses popular single board computers, such as the CHIP by Next Thing Co and the Raspberry Pi 3. Both computers require about 2W of power for operations. The tuner and amplifier require another half-watt. The signal is a 5 kHz channel with an output level of 18 dBW from the spacecraft.
Users can contact Outernet directly with any questions.
Antennas, tuners, amplifiers and parts of the L-band hardware may have to be replaced over time through Outernet or other hardware providers.
Software/media: indefinite given an end user’s digital storage ability
Hardware: 2 – 10 years with a to be determined warranty given users wait for the final shelf-ready version of the Lantern. Any earlier iteration of the Lantern (pre-mass production) would not be covered by a warranty, rather only supported through Outernet forums. interview with representative
No official third party vetting, but Outernet has had many regular users confirm reception of ther data broadcast. interview with representative
Be sure to follow proper installation and control guidelines. Expert advisers suggest that “even though satellite technology is an innovative idea it depends strongly on the environmental conditions, so if it’s cloudy or raining, then the service will be unavailable. Because of that, Outernet should not be consider for information services that might be critical, like emergency ads, and any real time communications requirements”
Digital media viewing technology is required, such as a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Number of hardware sales.
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