Technology blog The Information has reported that Google Inc. is close to investing about $1 billion in SpaceX to support the company’s efforts to deliver global internet access via a network of satellites. SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes the project will lead to fulfillment of his dream of traveling to Mars, the Inquisitr reported on Sunday.
Just what stake Google might end up with in Space Exploration Technologies Corp. was not clear to a Wall Street Journal source familiar with the matter.
Google has also pursued the use of solar-powered drones and high-altitude balloons to provide internet access to remote regions of the world. For the web giant, more people with internet access translates into more potential users of their services.
For more than a year, Google has been taking satellite-based internet service into consideration. Back in 2013, the company hired Greg Wyler, a veteran of the satellite industry, but Wyler left Google last summer and is now in pursuit of the development of his own satellite based internet venture.
Wall Street Journal reports that it is “likely to take years to establish designs and potentially set up a specialized satellite-making facility. But SpaceX has some important building blocks.” For instance, the company already builds its own navigation and flight control systems for spacecraft.
While the Tesla-backed Space X already has some of the technology and funding the company will need to deliver internet via satellites, the WSJ report indicated that Space X is faced with technical and financial challenges such as the cost of installing the necessary ground-based antennas and computer terminals to receive the satellite signals. Also, the company isn’t believed to control the rights to the radio spectrum needed to transmit internet signals to Earth.
Musk has discussed the option of using optical-laser technology in the project’s satellites in order to beam information from the satellites, but because lasers don’t easily pass through clouds, they wouldn’t be reliable, at least not in comparison to radio waves.
Greg Wyler’s new venture, OneWeb Ltd., secured funding from Virgin Group and Qualcomm Inc. Wyler hopes to install a constellation of 648 low-orbit satellites that will use a large block of radio spectrum he controls to provide global internet access. He estimated that the elaborate plan would cost as much as $2 billion.
Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights for Local Search Association, said, “Google needs to find additional sources of revenue,” Bloomberg reported. He went on to say, “They can expand into new markets, obviously they can expand their revenue and keep investors happy.”
His statements were made in regards to Mountain View, California-based Google’s race to increase internet access. If they are successful, Google will gain an edge over Facebook and other rivals.
Facebook is also working on a project which aims to deliver internet access to under-served regions of the world through a combination of drones, satellites, and lasers. In addition, WorldVu Satellites Ltd., which is backed by semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm Inc. and the Virgin Group, has begun a similar effort to provide web services around the world.
What do you think of the idea of Google and SpaceX joining forces to provide global internet access through a network of satellites orbiting the planet?
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