Google to bankroll, build wireless networks across Africa
(Reuters) –Ã‚Â Google IncÃ‚Â intends to finance, build and help operateÃ‚Â wireless networksÃ‚Â fromÃ‚Â sub-Saharan AfricaÃ‚Â toÃ‚Â Southeast Asia, hoping to connect a billion or so people in emerging countries to the Internet,Ã‚Â the Wall Street JournalÃ‚Â reported on Friday.
TheÃ‚Â Internet searchÃ‚Â giant – which has for years espoused universal Web access – is employing a patchwork quilt of technologies and holding discussions with regulators fromÃ‚Â South AfricaÃ‚Â to Kenya, the WSJ cited people familiar with the strategy as saying.
Access to the vast trove of information on the Internet, and the tools to make use of it, is considered key to lifting economies up the value chain. But countries are often hampered by the vast sums needed to build infrastructure, thorny regulations or geographical terrain.
To reach its goal, Google, which benefits the more people have access to its search and otherÃ‚Â Internet services, is lobbying regulators to use airwaves reserved for television broadcasts, which at lower frequencies can pass through buildings and over longer distances, the WSJ reported.
It is also working on providing low-cost cellphones and employing balloons or blimps to transmit signals over hundreds of square miles from high altitudes.
The company has already begun several small-scale trials, including in Cape Town, South Africa, where it is using a base station in conjunction with wireless access boxes to broadcast signals over several miles, the newspaper reported.
Chief Executive Larry Page has made no secret of his plans to use his company to work toward broader, non-profit goals. Google on Friday declined to comment on its plans.