Google wants to unlock the Internet for billions by building 180 satellites

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Google’s push to become a major ISP is already well under way, with Google Fiber deployed in a handful of U.S. cities. Their next big rollout may happen well above the Earth’s surface: Google is reportedly preparing a fleet of 180 satellites that will blanket the globe with Internet access.

The company has been very public about ambitions to reach the nearly two-thirds of the world’s population that has inadequate connectivity to the ‘Net — or no access at all. They’ve already tested out one possible delivery system with the Project Loon balloons, though some of those have caused a bit of a stir. A test flight that floated off course a couple of years back in Kentucky had residents thinking that a UFO was circling Pike county.

They’re also considering the use of solar drones to provide access. Just last month Google acquired Titan Aerospace, who created the world’s first “solar-powered atmospheric satellite,” for $20 million. The drones are capable of remaining aloft for five months at a time and Google believes it could deliver Internet access at speeds up to 1Gbps to areas that they circle.

As for this new satellite initiative, it’s reportedly going to cost Google around $3 billion to execute. Each of the 180 satellites will weigh about 250 pounds, so these aren’t Cubesats they’re building. That’s too bad, because it’d give Google a way to re-use all the Nexus One handsets they probably have lying around the Mountain View campus.

Once deployed, the satellites will help ensure that billions of people in all corners of the globe will be able to generate analytics data and pump additional dollars into Google’s advertising coffers. That’s the real goal, of course, and it’s the same reason Facebook is also trying to deliver Internet access to underserved Earthlings.

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