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Sriranga
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Google to spend more than $1bn on satellite internet, reports indicate Empty Google to spend more than $1bn on satellite internet, reports indicate

Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:19 pm
Extension of Project Loon to use low-Earth orbit satellites as Google tries to connect the unwired regions of globe

Google plans to spend more than $1bn on a fleet of 180 satellites to beam internet access to unconnected parts of the globe.

The project will use small, but high capacity low-Earth orbiting satellites that sit lower in the sky than traditional satellites, a report by the Wall Street Journal indicates.

The satellite venture will be an extension of Google’s Project Loon, which uses high-altitude balloons to carry internet signal across areas of New Zealand with the intention of establishing an uninterrupted internet signal around the 40th parallel of the Earth's southern hemisphere.

Reporting directly to Larry Page
Satellite-communications expert Greg Wyler, who founded specialist startup O3b Networks, is reportedly leading the new project for Google reporting directly to chief executive Larry Page with a team of about 20 people.

Google recently purchased drone-maker Titan Aerospace to deliver solar-powered high-altitude drones that can stay airborne for five years at a time. The drones, called “atmospheric satellites”, could replace the balloons in Project Loon.

'Beam internet to people from the sky'
Facebook is also looking to connect unwired parts of the globe with its Connectivity Lab – a direct challenge to Google's Project Loon. The social network purchased Somerset-based solar-powered drone designer Ascenta as part of its internet.org initiative, which plans to “beam internet to people from the sky”, according to Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

“It’s easy to take for granted that most people have access to the internet, but only one third of the world, 2.7 billion people, currently have access to the internet,” said Zuckerberg in his MWC keynote. “We’re not on a path to connect everyone right now, unless something dramatic changes.”

Both Google and Facebook will have to overcome regulatory hurdles, as well as design and financial complications before their respective satellites and drones can be deployed.

"Internet connectivity significantly improves people's lives. Yet two thirds of the world have no access at all," said a Google spokesperson in a statement sent to the Guardian. "It's why we're so focused on new technologies—from Project Loon to Titan Aerospace—that have the potential to bring hundreds of millions more people online in the coming years.”

Google declined to comment further on the reported satellite project.
http://www.theguardian.com/
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