Forget fickle teens, the hottest demographic in tech right now is The Unwired. Google is investing $1 billion to $3 billion on a fleet of satellites to beam down Internet access on developing countries and other assorted areas without broadband. Before this satellite project, Google had tried the same thing with drones and balloons.
The god of search is not purely benevolent. Both Google and Facebook are in race convert people without Internet access into consumers of their services. Growth chasing tech companies have to look outside the U.S. And they're willing to throw lots of money at the problem, reports the Wall Street Journal:
Google's Project Loon is designing high-altitude balloons to provide broadband service to remote parts of the world. In April, Google acquired Titan Aerospace, which is building solar-powered drones to provide similar connectivity. Facebook has its own drone effort.
Details remain in flux, the people said, but the project will start with 180 small, high-capacity satellites orbiting the earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites, and then could expand.
And then eventually take over the world:
Google hopes to cover the entire globe with more, but smaller, satellites weighing less than 250 pounds, the people familiar with the project said.
During a conference in March, Google CEO Mr. Page mused about spanning the globe with Internet access delivered by Project Loon. "I think we can build a world-wide mesh of these balloons that can cover the whole planet," he said, noting that they are cheaper and faster to launch than satellites.
History is replete with ambitious satellite plans that failed, according to Roger Rusch, who runs TelAstra Inc., a satellite-industry consulting firm. Google's project will end up "costing far more than they can imagine today," he said, perhaps as much as $20 billion. "This is exactly the kind of pipe dream we have seen before."
Eh, what's $20 billion when you can control Internet access to two-thirds of the globe?
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