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In the 21st century, we’re used to having Internet access everywhere we go. Whether you’re driving down the road following directions on your smartphone, answering emails at a cafe, or googling trivia answers in a bar, there’s no longer a need to be chained to your desk in order to go online.
Today there are literally millions of Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world, with the number continually growing. They’re showing up not only in cafes and hotels, but supermarkets, gas stations, department stores, libraries, restaurants, even hospitals. And despite security concerns and evil twin scares, the demand continues to grow.
But it hasn’t always been so easy to get your online fix while you’re on the go. Hotspots used to charge for access to their Wi-Fi, hotels piled on extra fees, and you’d never even think to check your email at a restaurant or hospital.
Those examples may no longer be true, but there are still spots where our Internet addiction needs to go unfulfilled. We’re still limited when it comes to traveling by airplane, or visiting national parks, expansive deserts, remote islands, or off-the-grid rural areas. Then there are places where Wi-Fi access isn’t just lacking, but purposely banned (like at the National Radio Quiet Zone), or places where most of us couldn’t afford access (like in American Samoa, which has the most expensive Internet in America).
Still, Wi-Fi’s reach extends much farther than most people think. Though Alaska or the Sahara desert might be lacking in Wi-Fi hotspots, you can still check your email atop some of the world’s tallest mountains, tiniest villages, even in select areas in outer space.
Planning on a trip and need Wi-Fi access while you’re on the go? You don’t have to cross off all the remote areas on your list. It may just surprise you where you’re able to log in.
The World’s 6 Most Extreme Wi-Fi Hotspots
By 2015 the number of Wi-Fi hotspots is estimated to total 5.8 million. These hotspots are in airports, cafes, malls and other public places all over the world. But what about the more extreme locations?
Researchers from MIT (Lincoln Laboratory) and NASA made it possible for those on the moon to have access to the same kind of connectivity we have on Earth.
The team has been able to transmit data between Earth and the moon at a rate of 19.44 mbps and to download data at a rate of 622 mbps.
How it works:
The scientists used four separate telescopes to send signals to a satellite revolving around the moon.
The satellite had a receiver mounted on it.
A laser transmitter — which beamed data in coded pulses of IR light — fed each of the telescopes.
The laser transmitter transmits the infrared light through different columns of air.
A telescope mounted on the satellite collects and aims the laser beam into an optical fiber.
The pulses of infrared light are turned into electrical pulses using a photodetector.
The electrical pulses are then converted into data.
The International Space Station (ISS)
If you can afford to pay a visit to the International Space Station (ISS), you won’t have to wait until you get back to tell your friends about it.
The ISS (a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit) now has a Wi-Fi network.
How it works:
The Internet connection, which uses Ku-band, delivers output of around 10 mbps down and 3 mbps up from the space station.
Ku-band is a satellite communications system that also allows airplane passengers access to Wi-Fi.
In India, Gujarat’s tallest mountain, Mount Girnar (3,383 ft tall), became Wi-Fi enabled in 2010.
Each year, over 2.5 million tourists visit about 30 temples on the mountain including famous Ambaji Mandir and Jain Derasar.
The Wi-Fi system was installed around the walking track.
Summit of Mt. Everest
In 2010, Ncell (a Nepalese Telecommunications Company) provided the world’s highest peak with 3G data connection.
You can find Wi-Fi hotspots all along the arduous walk, up to the last meeting point — just before you reach the peak.
How it works:
Ncell (Nepalese Telecoms Company) provided the peak with 3G data in 2010.
In June 2013, Huawei and China Mobile upgraded the existing 3G internet at Everest’s base camp by deploying 4G LTE.
The increase allows for high-speed internet connections and HD video calling.
The North Pole
In 2005, a pair of Intel employees set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in one of the world’s coldest places, the North Pole.
Two Moscow-based Intel employees set out on an expedition to set up the hotspot near Barneo ice camp (on the 89th northern parallel) – just 80 km from the North Pole.
This was the first wireless connection in the Arctic region.
How it works:
An 802.11b/g access point was installed at the main camp site.
They set up a wireless local area network (LAN) connection with Intel Centrino mobile tech on four laptops.
The network connects to the internet via an Iridium satellite phone.
The small village of Sarohan is in the middle of a dessert in India. It did not have electricity until 2005.
In 2005, the village of about 2,000 people became Wi-Fi enabled with a 20 metre Wi-Fi tower.
The Wi-Fi, which was part of IIT Kanpur’s Digital Gangetic Plain Project, allows them access to an entire world of information on the internet.
As technology continues to improve we will see even more hotspots in extreme places all over the world.
First Broadband Wireless Connection…to the Moon?! – osa.org
Wireless Broadband Can Reach the Moon, and Maybe Mars – wired.co.uk