Google Spends $2 Billion on Satellites

Google is spending around $2 billion on satellites to bring Internet access to remote regions of the world, according to reports.

While some details are murky, unnamed sources said that Google will soon start with 180 small satellites orbiting the earth at a lower altitude, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The whole project is being run by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite startup O3b Networks, and Google is currently hiring engineers from Space Systems/Loral for the project. The project's price is estimated between "$1 billion to more than $3 billion" depending on the network's final details, but most assume that costs will be higher rather than lower.

Google is attempting to give the entirety of the world Internet access, but underneath this humanitarian endeavor is a commercial one. No matter the manner -- be it balloons, drones or satellites -- by giving those without Internet access the Web, Google (as well as Facebook) are giving themselves new customers. (Google is also reportedly buying Titan Aerospace, a startup that makes high-altitude drones, so it can capture and collect remote images.)

"Google and Facebook are trying to figure out ways of reaching populations that thus far have been unreachable," Susan Irwin, president of Irwin Communications Inc., a satellite-communications research firm, told the WSJ.  "Wired connectivity only goes so far and wireless cellular networks reach small areas. Satellites can gain much broader access."
A Google spokeswoman said the company wants millions of more people online but would not comment on the Google deal. "Internet connectivity significantly improves people's lives. Yet two thirds of the world have no access at all," she said. 
Although Google's Project Loon garnered much fanfare, the balloons are expected to be replaced by drones and satellites, but the costs may be more significant that way. That said, Google has plenty of cash, but is it worth $3 billion for a few hundred million people?
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