Mbit/s to Mars

6:25 AM -- Here's a bit of news that could frustrate broadband-deprived people who live and work in remote locations: Astronauts aboard NASA's manned space stations will have a much faster broadband connection than people in rural Europe within a few years.

That's because NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is updating its data connectivity technology from a radio-based system to a laser-based one from 2015, a move that will boost connectivity between earth and its space stations and satellites to 100 Mbit/s from the current 6 Mbit/s.

The new Laser Communications Relay Demonstration project is being undertaken at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Further details can be found in this press release.

The press release is understandably quite dry and factual about the matter, so I preferred the angle taken by UK newspaper The Guardian in this short article: "Nasa has provided a constant Internet connection to the International Space Station since January 2010, allowing astronauts to update their Facebook accounts and send tweets whenever they want. The upgrade will not only give them faster connection speeds, so they can watch YouTube without all that annoying pausing, it will also pave the way for future manned and scientific missions to Mars and beyond."

In the meantime, those of us with our feet on the ground in Europe can only hope we're in the right place to get anything like 100 Mbit/s to our domiciles by 2015. (See Brakes Stuck on Europe's FTTH Ride.)

I hope to get an update on developments in the region's high-speed access market in a few weeks' time at the Broadband World Forum jamboree in Paris. Euroblog will be there with a TV crew, camera, notebook and a nose for a decent cup of coffee -- see you on the show floor!

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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