C&B Notes

Ads for Infrastructure

It is indeed a strange new world if Google can make enough money off of advertising to subsidize offering internet access.  It is analogous to a traditional radio or broadcast television model.  The bi-directional, interactive nature of the internet could hasten the development of these lagging markets.

Google Inc. is deep into a multipronged effort to build and help run wireless networks in emerging markets as part of a plan to connect a billion or more new people to the Internet.  These wireless networks would serve areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia to dwellers outside of major cities where wired Internet connections aren’t available, said people familiar with the strategy.  The networks also could be used to improve Internet speeds in urban centers, these people said.

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In some cases, Google aims to use airwaves reserved for television broadcasts, but only if government regulators allowed it, these people said.  The company has begun talking to regulators in countries such as South Africa and Kenya about changing current rules to allow such networks to be built en masse.  Some wireless executives say they expect such changes to happen in the coming years.

As part of the plan, Google has been working on building an ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones powered by its Android mobile operating system to connect to the wireless networks, these people said.  And the Internet search giant has worked on making special balloons or blimps, known as high-altitude platforms, to transmit signals to an area of hundreds of square miles, though such a network would involve frequencies other than the TV broadcast ones.  Google has also considered helping to create a satellite-based network, some of these people said.  “There’s not going to be one technology that will be the silver bullet,” meaning that each market will require a unique solution, said one person familiar with Google’s plans.

The activities underscore how the Web search giant is increasingly aiming to have control over every aspect of a person’s connection to the Web across the globe.