Google to open the internet up to one billion people

Posted on May 30, 2013


Google is developing plans to open the internet up to more than a billion people in emerging markets such as south-east Asia and Africa.

To achieve its target, the search giant is hoping to build high-speed WiFi networks in parts of Africa by using high-altitude blimps, which are able to send and receive signals across areas stretching hundreds of miles.

If the plan goes ahead, the balloons will be used alongside other technologies, such as signal masts and satellites. The initiative’s success will depend on collaborations with equipment providers and telecoms companies.

Google is already testing a wireless network which offers high-speed broadband to students in Cape Town. The trial has involved the setting up of three signal masts at the campus of Stellenbosch University; the masts then transmit to 10 schools in the area.

Explaining the concept’s innovative use of “white spaces”, Google South Africa’s Public Policy Manager, Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, said in a blog post:

“White spaces are unused channels in the broadcast TV spectrum. They offer the potential to improve internet connectivity where they are most needed – in the developing world.

“White space has the advantage that low frequency signals can travel longer distances. The technology is well suited to provide low cost connectivity to rural communities with poor telecommunications infrastructure.”

Google is hoping the trial will demonstrate a significant enough positive impact to encourage progress in its other ventures in the area. The huge new audience would open many doors for internet marketing agencies looking to make the most of an emerging market.

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