Google estimates over 4.5 billion people without internet access and the search giant envisions the internet for everyone. The company has invested in an assortment of different internet access methods including balloons, satellites, fiber, and terrestrial wireless.
Speaking at MWC yesterday Google Chief of Android, Chrome and Google Apps Sundar Pichai came out to clarify plans for Global connectivity he said:
Many of us take connectivity for granted, we may complain about Wi-Fi speeds, but we’re all very fortunate. There are 4 billion people in the world that don’t have access to connectivity.We want to do better with this. At Google we’re taking the same approach to connectivity as our other projects. Three main points to Google’s approach. Urban areas, which is served by Google Fiber.
We are perhaps fortunate in Uganda to have Project Link underway, this was a Google initiative to inter-connect the whole Kampala to the internet using fiber technology. Currently Google is working with the different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) mainly telcos to make this happen. We however still wait in of Google’s WiFi roll-out in Kampala. The deal is such that the ISPs lease the fiber from Google in order to connect all their cell towers with high-speed internet. The model for Google fiber is perhaps different in the US, where Google provides a Fiber to Home solution bundled with other services.
Project Loon, which started 4 years ago as an experiment. It’s balloons in the sky that act as floating cell towers. Loon is a huge undertaking, and the company has made huge progress. Two years ago, they could barely keep the balloon up for 3 days, and it served only 3G. Now, they can stay up in the air for 6 months at a time and they provide 4G connectivity. They circumnavigate the globe nine times, passing over more than a dozen countries on four continents along the way.
Loon has now conducted tests with different carriers around the world including Vodafone in New Zealand, Telstra in Australia, and Telefonica in Latin America, and it says it’s working on commercial deals with several new network operators around the globe. This is Google’s plan for connecting rural areas in the world to the internet think with Loon we can bring connectivity to many rural areas in the world. Its clear Google wants to work with not compete with the mobile carriers. It’s a win -win, Google gets permission to use the spectrum and provides the cell towers in the sky, sharing the revenue for each new customer with the telco.
“Google wants to work with not against the carriers”
Loon is being built with the audacious goal of beaming internet access down to the most remote parts of the planet, using specially equipped balloons that kiss the upper edges of Earth’s atmosphere known as the stratosphere. Last year, Project Loon switched its payloads from Wi-Fi to LTE — “floating cell towers in the sky,”
The third thing Google is doing are airplanes in the sky that work with Loon’s balloons. It’s called Project Titan, Google plans to fly the planes in the coming months. This is similar to Facebook’s internet access promise.
Google knows that no one company can bring such kind of connectivity at a large-scale. So they are happy to work with Facebook and what it’s doing with internet.org, but although they insist that their approach is somewhat different. The two services are complimentary. The only business model that can justify this, lies in a long-term promise where Google hopes people are willing to pay for connectivity and they are able to get more users on their services.