Google to spend up to $3bn on satellites to extend global internet coverage

By Peter Gothard
03 Jun 2014 View Comments

Google has announced that it is to spend $1bn on a fleet of 180 satellites intended to pepper the earth’s atmosphere in the hope of extending internet access to even the remotest parts of the globe. 

The satellites will orbit the earth at lower altitudes than regular satellites, in a venture run by Greg Wyler, who defected from his satellite communications start-up O3b Networks along with his former chief technology officer.

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Wyler has now built a team of between 10 and 20 people at Google.

At the same time, the company has been gathering engineers from Space Systems – another satellite company – to assist with the project.

Inside sources claim that Google’s investment on the satellite project could be anywhere between $1bn and $3bn, suggesting a serious commitment from the internet company.

It has also been suggested that a later phase of the project could double the number of satellites.

An April 2014 acquisition of Titan Aerospace could also contribute technology, as this company was working on solar-powered drones to provide similar high-speed internet for hard to reach areas. 

Satellite internet access from companies such as Inmarsat has been available for years. However, costs are high and bandwidth limited. 

Another Google project, called Project Loon, is working on using balloons to provide a similar all-encompassing internet service

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