Vodafone and Nokia to create first 4G network on the moon.

Not too long ago, finding a business that offered a public Wi-Fi connection was like hitting the jackpot. But now, with internet connectivity basically falling on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it might be more rare for consumers to not find a connection point when they’re shopping, dining, looking for hotel and airport accommodations, or other similar activities.

Yes, there are certainly places around the globe where reliable internet connections are scarce, and projects from innovators like Google and Elon Musk are working to change that. But one new source of internet connection is (sorry, have to use the pun) out of this world.

Vodafone Germany has partnered with Nokia to develop space-grade network weighing less than a bag of sugar. Working in conjunction with Berlin-based PTScientists, the telecoms giant plans to live-stream HD video from the moon’s surface to a global audience, in 2019.

Vodafone 4G network will enable first live-streaming of HD video from the Moon’s surface to a global audience.

Vodafone plans to create the first 4G network on the Moon by 2019. (Image courtesy of NASA)

One small step

German developers are at work on two lunar rovers that are intended to land near the original 1972 Apollo 17 landing site, drive up to the location, then transmit images and live-stream video back to Earth. As anyone with a questionable Netflix addiction can tell you, that kind of streaming requires a healthy dose of broadband, so the first step is to deploy a 4G network on the Moon via the rovers.

Of course, space “internet” is already in operation aboard the International Space Station, in a way. It’s how NASA was able to transmit a file containing the plans for a 3D printed wrench in 2014. Crew aboard the ISS printed the wrench as part of a pre-planned experimental process, and it was returned to Earth to be studied at the Marshall Space Flight Center, basically creating the Star Trek replicator.

One giant step

There are a lot of ramifications to the entire lunar rover mission, though, and the exact details of the launch and recovery are far off. What is known is that Vodafone Germany and PTScientists, originally in contention for the Google Lunar XPRIZE before it was disbanded, are working together on this network, one that could conceivably remain in place and in operation for future space use by this team and other space programs.