Google Is Launching 180 Satellites to Bring the Internet to Remote Corners of the World

Google is acquiring satellite companies and hiring experts to find solutions for bringing internet to remote corners of the world

The project could provide high speed internet to the remote Cook Islands, for example. Photo: Patrick Ward/Corbis

As unimaginable as it may be to those of us dependent on the web, some remote corners of the planet still lack viable internet connections. Or, the connections are so slow that user can't do basic internet things, like participate in e-commerce. But Google is trying to change that, by investing at least $1 billion into designing and launching a fleet of 180 satellites that will bring high-speed internet connection to internet-lacking places around the world, the Wall Street Journal reports

The project is being led by two engineers who formerly worked at a satellite start-up called O3b Networks. BBC Future provides more details about what those engineers and their former company already accomplished in pursuit of this mission: 

O3b Networks recently launched its first four satellites, which it says orbit around four times closer to Earth than regular geosynchronous satellites and cover a 400 mile (643km) circumference per satellite. This should speed up data transfer by about four times compared to traditional satellite connections. The Cook Islands in the Pacific signed up as the first trial customers, while places like Somalia and inland Peru are expected to join in six months or so. The company also plans to provide internet to cruise ships and offshore oilrigs, which currently use traditional satellites.

The new Google satellites, the Wall Street Journal adds, will be smaller and lighter than O3b's. 

This isn't Google's first foray into efforts to expand global internet coverage. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the company's project Loon aims to distribute coverage via balloon, and Google also recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a company that is trying to provide internet by solar-powered drones. 

A Google spokesperson pointed out that internet significantly improves people's lives, while the Wall Street Journal adds that companies like "Google and Facebook Inc. are counting on new Internet users in underserved regions to boost revenue, and ultimately, earnings."

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.