Since June 2013 it has been clear that Google has grand plans to bring the internet to the remotest corners of the Earth. That month saw them announce Project Loon; an initiative that uses high altitude balloons to bring broadband to hard to reach places. And this April, Google bought Titan Aerospace, a company that develops unmanned solar powered aircraft that can fly non-stop for hundreds of years beaming signals to the ground. In a modern day ‘space race’ Facebook has also been dabbling with plans to send drones and satellites into orbit to beam down signals, and have been working with NASA experts and UK based aerospace company Ascenta to develop ‘connectivity aircraft’.
Maybe the crash of one of their loons in a remote part of Washington State last week has made Google look again to their connective hardware. They are reportedly planning to spend $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to bring the internet to unconnected parts of the planet.
Google will be assisted in the project by satellite communications start up O3b Networks, with engineers also from satellite company Space Systems/Loral LLC. The project leader will be Greg Wyler.
Both Google and Facebook are eager to get their brand across as the leader in connectivity. Facebook works under the banner Internet.org, which has the tagline “global effort to make affordable basic internet services available to everyone in the world.”
Using high altitude aircraft is seen as a cheaper, quicker way to connect to the internet, as installing wired networks in countries with little infrastructure could stretch the imaginations of even Google.