Group seeks to expand internet in developing nations

Internet group O3b Networks, backed by Google and two other leading companies, unveiled a plan to expand high-speed internet access to emerging market countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, an AFP report said.

The new venture, managed by O3b -- 'other 3 billion' -- Networks, is also supported by British-based banking giant HSBC and cable operator Liberty Global, the AFP report added.

'The new system will reduce bandwidth costs for telecommunications operators and internet service providers, enabling cost-effective voice and broadband services at speeds equivalent to those enjoyed in the developed world,' a joint statement said.

It said O3b's 'operational and technical development (was) well underway,' notably with the production of an initial constellation of 16 satellites.

'Access to the internet backbone is still severely limited in emerging markets,' said O3b Networks founder Grey Wyler.

'Only when emerging markets achieve affordable and ubiquitous access to the rest of the world will be observe locally generated content, widespread e-learning, telemedicine and many more enablers to social and economic growth, which reflect the true value of the internet.

'O3b Networks will bring multi-gigabit internet speeds directly to emerging markets, whether landlocked in Africa or isolated by water in the Pacific Islands.'