Satellites, drones, or balloons…

Digital Content

Google has plans to invest at least $1 billion (more likely a few billion) on low-orbit satellites that will provide Internet access to underserved areas. The news comes after news that the company is thinking of using drones or high-altitude balloons to provide broadband to places like rural Africa.

Utilizing satellites to deliver Internet to rural Africa is nothing new; for years VSAT has serve remote areas with high-latency access. However, spending billions of dollars seems extreme given the cost needed to build terrestrial fibre backbone networks and requisite mobile infrastructure is much less.

Still, it’s too early to tell if any plans from Google (or Facebook) to provide Internet access will come to fruition given spectrum and other national regulatory challenges.