The Internet is a powerful tool. Used in the right hands it can oust corrupt governments, allow better collaboration and communication, and inspire us in ways that were impossible just a few decades ago. Those of us that have easy access to the web often take this gift for granted. We forget that out of roughly 7 billion people, only around 2 ½ billion have the privilege of using the web.
The good news is that net usage continues to increase at a rapid pace, especially considering that in the year 2000 there was only 360 million Internet users. It looks like Google is about to help that number jump up even further, at least if a new rumor is to be believed.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is planning to fund a project that would bring Internet access to as many as a billion potential Internet users in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
According to WSJ’s sources, the wireless network would use multiple methods and technologies to reach people who otherwise have no way to get online. As the source puts it, “There’s not going to be one technology that will be the silver bullet”.
In other words, several technologies will probably be used to make this happen, depending on local regulation and what works best for the area.
Some of the methods being researched include utilizing unused airwaves currently reserved for TV and other industries. There is also talk of Google helping construct some kind of satellite network. But it gets a whole lot more unconventional than that, folks.
Google is apparently working on a unique method that uses high-altitude platforms like balloons and blimps, which could be used to transmit signals to an area of hundreds of square miles. What’s really interesting is that Google’s X lab recently acquired a company called Makani Power that creates flying wind turbines. It is possible these flying turbines have something to do with this network project.
Google’s goal isn’t to create the network by itself. Instead, the Mountain View giant hopes to partner with local companies. It also is already said to be in talks with regulatory bodies in several countries to make the changes needed for the project to go forward.
Beyond creating new ways to bring the net to emerging markets, Google is also working on building an “ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones” for use on the network. As you probably guessed, these devices would be powered by Google’s Android.
Keep in mind that Google has yet to confirm that this is a real project, so take everything here with a grain of salt. If true? This could be an amazing development and a project that could really make a major impact on many people’s lives.