Monthly Archives: June 2013

Connecting to Google:Africa

Originally posted on Gloobbi

After almost fifteen years of delivering astounding Internet services and products to the world, Google Inc is now making its foray into a new sector. Reports say that the Search Engine giant is intending to provide Wi-Fi services to vast stretches of developing countries, from the sub-Saharan African desert to South East Asia.

From providing one of the most popular search engines to the dynamic Gmail, Google Chrome, the development of Android OS for smart phones, Google +, and the upcoming Google Glass, Google Inc never ceases surprise with its seemingly endless supply of innovations.

This time too, the company has come up with a groundbreaking idea of connecting over a billion people in Africa and South-East Asia to the Internet, which currently proves challenging outside the major cities. According to the Internet World Stats for 2012, only 7% of the world’s Internet users are from Africa and this population makes up only 15% of those living in Africa. An impressive possibility for market expansion for the Internet service providers.

According to news reports, Google plans to bypass barriers such as unfavourable geographical positioning and inadequate transportation by using free-flying aircrafts or balloons, better known as “blimps”. Acting as “high altitude platforms”, these blimps would transmit signals to areas otherwise unreachable. Plans to use satellites to transmit signals are also on the cards, with the intention of collaborating with local telecommunication providers in order to ensure that this is meted out meticulously.

Besides this they seem to be discussing with regulators the possibility of using certain airwaves for transmission, which are currently reserved only for television broadcasts. These airwaves are said to operate at lower frequencies and hence can travel longer distances than the current Wi-Fi technology. This could also help improve the speed of internet connections in urban areas.

All well and good, doubters might say, but can the vast majority of people in these rural areas afford to actually own devices such as Smartphones and computers? In response to this, Google is already coming up with low cost microprocessors and Smartphones powered by their very own Android.

One could also wonder why it is that Google is so interested in making a remote part of the world Internet-savvy. Well, if Google’s plans do become successful, they would be providing Internet services to a billion or so additional customers. This implies that all those people would be using Google’s popular services like their search engine, YouTube and the App store to name but a few. Google is said to be generating most of its profits from ‘Adwords’, their major advertising product. With an explosive increase in the number of users, Google could generate a lot more revenue through online advertizing.

Whilst Google’s intentions may not be purely altruistic, this could nevertheless prove to be a boon for developing countries and help raise their economies. Google has already begun trials of this technology in South Africa. One can only hope that these plans fall into place and this vast pool of people get to know what it is like on the World Wide Web.