Google Getting Behind Satellite Broadband
The "other three billion" look set to receive a helping hand from Google. The search giant, along with Liberty Global and HSBC Principal Investments, is supporting O3b Networks in its quest to provide emerging markets with Internet connections.
The O3b Networks system will initially consist of 16 satellites serving parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Due to issues of war, poverty, and population density, these places are difficult to cover with fiber networks, and O3b claims that it will be able to offer comparable speeds and prices.
Then, as explained in a statement by Larry Alder, the product manager of Google’s Alternative Access Team, "O3b Networks’ model empowers local entrepreneurs and companies to deliver Internet and mobile services . . . . We believe in O3b Networks’ model and its goal of expanding the reach of the Internet to users who currently have limited and expensive connection options, as it complements our mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful."
Google, Liberty Global, and HSBC have contributed around $60 million to the cause so far, with costs expecting to total around $650 million, according to Christopher Rhoads. Service activation should take place sometime in late 2010.
Chalk this up as a nice bit of PR work, and so long as the emerging markets don’t cling to Yahoo and/or AdBlock Plus, a great way for Google to grow its reach and revenue streams.