Google is investing more than $1 billion in a project to launch a fleet of satellites to bring Internet access to "unwired" regions of the planet, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The venture will allegedly be helmed by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite communications startup O3b Networks Ltd. He'll lead a team of 10 to 20 people in a project that ultimately seeks to bring hundreds of millions of folks out of the dark.
This isn't Google's first foray into aerial Internet delivery. The company's Project Loon is engaged with designing high-altitude balloons to bring broadband service to remote areas of the world, while Google's recent acquisition of Titan Aerospace signifies a similar ambition for solar-powered drones.
Although more specific details have not yet been released, Google is likely to start with 180 small, high-powered satellites that will orbit the earth at low altitudes. One of the challenges of the project is figuring out how to ensure that Google satellites don't interfere with other fleet operators—one of many potential issues that could lead the endeavor's ultimate price tag to, ahem, balloon.
Cynics will be quick to point out that Google's lofty ambitions are motivated by the fact that more Internet users will mean more revenue for the reigning juggernaut of online services. Holding this view may, however, be a luxury of those who already have Internet access.
As Jeremy Rose, of London-based satellite consulting firm Cosmsys, says, this project, if successful, "could amount to a sea change in the way people will get access to the Internet, from the third world to even some suburban areas of the U.S."
In other words, sometime in the near future, you might look back nostalgically on the days when there were actually areas on this green earth where you couldn't peruse the Internet to stalk ex-lovers or abase yourself with some cat video.