Google to build wireless networks in Africa
Google is working to connect a billion or more new Internet users in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The proposed network's infrastructure is said to differ from Google's high-speed Google Fiber service in that instead of running lines of fiber optic cable throughout communities or regions, Google is seeking to broadcast Internet service to regions wirelessly.
Google is said to be eyeing a system of 'high-altitude platforms' - special balloons or blimps - to provide wireless Internet access for areas reaching 'hundreds of square miles,' according to the Journal report. The search giant is also considering satellite broadcasts and using TV broadcast frequencies.
Sources close to the project told the Journal that different regions would require different methods of Internet access delivery, and there wouldn't be any 'one technology that will be the silver bullet.'
It's unclear how far along the speculative undertaking is in terms of getting telecommunications partnerships or coordinating with local governments. Google would likely need to seek permission and support from municipalities to see the project through, according to the Journal.
Google did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment on the proposed project.
As another part of the effort to connect potential users in these emerging areas, Google is said to be focusing on engineering new, cost-efficient smartphone hardware to run its Android mobile operating system. The incentive for Google to provide free or low-cost Internet service to new markets, reported the Journal, was that many would use Google services and software, thereby increasing overall online traffic and ad revenue for the company.
Google announced at this year's I/O developer conference that the company had activated more than 900 million Android devices worldwide. Google's Chrome Web browser (on multiple operating systems, mobile and desktop) now has more than 750 million users, according to the company.