Report: Google To Spend $1B+ On Satellite Internet
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is readying to launch a network of satellites to bring internet access to remote areas. The move is the latest in a series of industry-wide experiments to overcome costly land-based networks and bring internet access to new markets.
“People familiar with the project” said that it will begin with 180 small satellites flying at lower than normal levels in the stratosphere, still above the altitude of most aircraft. The inital cost is being described as $1 billion, but the final price tag could be more than $3 billion.
The satellites are a step beyond Google’s Project Loon, an experimental initiative revealed last year trying to use high altitude balloons equipped with transmitters to bring internet to remote and disaster-stricken areas. Google and other companies like Facebook have also explored using drones to create internet networks.
The extension of internet access has both humanitarian and commercial purposes. These innovations are often described as potentially bringing internet access to remote, rural areas that still lack high-speed internet, which is increasingly seen as an essential human utility. But internet-based companies are also seeking new consumers.
With over 1 billion global users, Facebook is looking to completely untapped markets: those without internet. The company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads a coalition of tech companies at Internet.org, dedicated to expanding global access.