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Google sets it sights on the stratosphere by investing in satellite internet access

Google is looking to make the world a better place by providing worldwide internet access, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. According to sources working on the project, Google plans to spend more than US$1-billion on a fleet of satellites that would extend internet access to the remote corners of the world.

Although there are no concrete details on the project yet, the WSJ reported that the fleet would start with 180 low-orbiting, lightweight, high-capacity satellites.

Google, of course, is hardly the first company to invest in global internet access. Recently, Facebook announced that it would be using high-altitude drones in an effort to bring the world online. According to Mark Zuckerberg, drones are a better vessel for internet connectivity than balloons, Google’s previous worldwide web project.

Other past projects, like the 03b (also funded by Google), have tried to project satellite internet access through much heavier orbiter, weighing as much as 680kg. This new project by Google projects to launch satellites weighing as little as 115kg.

According to Google, “Internet connectivity significantly improves people’s lives. Yet two thirds of the world have no access at all.”

But don’t be fooled by its altruistic ambitions just yet. Google stands to benefit astronomically from global internet access. Currently, Google, and other internet giants like Facebook, are depending on a growth in users to boost revenue—and by extension earnings.

While Google might be increasing access, and bettering lives, it will ultimately be lining its own pockets by increasing access to novel markets.

But regardless of its intentions, this is an exciting project for Google and the implications are significant. Experts in the area have estimated that it will take some time, and likely billions more in investment, before the project is viable.

Image: Chris Devers via Flickr

Author | Marguerite Heyns

Marguerite Heyns
Marguerite is a Canadian/South African Biologist with an astonishingly diverse set of interests. During a brief stint working with a grassroots level organisation in Bangladesh, she fell in love with social media and its ability to ignite social change. As a long term interweb addict and narrative nerd, Marguerite... More

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