Google didn't confirm the report, but it didn't knock it down either, saying, "Internet connectivity significantly improves people's lives. Yet two-thirds of the world have no access at all." The company is already spending big on Project Loon, an experimental project that uses balloons as devices to spread connectivity.
There are also widespread reports that Google is close to buying Skybox Imaging, a company that has launched one small imaging satellite into low-earth orbit and plans to launch 23 more. (I interviewed its co-founder John Fenwick recently.) Skybox plans to use the satellites to shoot high-definition images from space and sell them. The company's technology would be an obvious complement to Google's mapping and imaging businesses, but it could also be used to deliver broadband. Neither Google nor Skybox have commented on the reports.
Whether or not Google really plans to get into the satellite business, there's now no doubt that it's serious about moving into the broadband business. However, building out fiber networks will be a slow process, so don't hold your breath for 1Gbps broadband to come to your neighborhood. It'll take much longer than that to reach even the big cities.
Still, Google's entry into the business may well have the effect on broadband that T-Mobile's aggressive moves have had in the cellular market, where odious, two-year contracts have largely gone away and prices of some services have dropped sharply. (But competition in the wireless market may be sharply curbed if Sprint succeeds in buying T-Mobile USA, which news reports say is imminent, though the federal government has said it opposes such a merger.)
When companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast have no serious competition, they do what they want -- too bad for those who don't like it. Thanks to Google, that's finally going to change.
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