Google Inc intends to finance, build and help operate wireless networks from Southeast Asia to sub-Saharan Africa, hoping to connect a billion or so people in emerging countries to the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
According to the report, Google is “deep in the throes” of the effort to build wireless networks for people outside major cities where wired Internet connections are scarce.
It said Google plans to team up with local companies in some of the countries to develop the networks, and formulate business models to support them.
In some cases, the newspaper said, Google plans to provide its own recently developed wireless technologies to help such networks.
The Internet search giant – which has for years espoused universal Web access – is employing a patchwork quilt of technologies and holding discussions with regulators from South Africa to Kenya.
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 other Internet services, is lobbying regulators to use airwaves reserved for television broadcasts, which at lower frequencies can pass through buildings and over longer distances.
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.