Report: Google looks to fund, develop wireless service for emerging markets

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is working on plans to fund, develop and launch wireless networks in emerging markets as part of a broader push to get 1 billion people around the world connected to the Internet, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that Google will focus the service on areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia and work with local telecommunications providers and gear vendors in the emerging markets to develop the networks. Not only that, Google plans to develop the business models to support the networks and is also working to develop new chipsets and low-cost Android smartphones to connect to the networks.

The plan, including the Android component, could ultimately result in more people accessing Google services such as Gmail and YouTube, where Google could obtain more advertising-based revenue.

Google declined to comment, according to the Journal.

In some instances, Google wants to repurpose broadcast TV spectrum for the networks where national governments will allow it, the report said. Google has started discussions with regulators in countries such as South Africa and Kenya about changing rules for broadcast TV spectrum. In other cases, Google plans to use blimps, known as high-altitude platforms, to transmit wireless signals to an area of hundreds of square miles on non-broadcast spectrum. Google has also considered helping to create a satellite-based network, the report said.

Some of Google's efforts to expand wireless access are public and well-known, such as its advocacy with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other tech giants to make "white space" spectrum, the airwaves in between broadcast stations, available for unlicensed use. In the U.S., Google has launched own high-speed fiber-optic network, Google Fiber, in cities in Kansas, and plans to expand it in Missouri, Texas and Utah and elsewhere. Google also plans to launch a Wi-Fi network to piggyback on its wired network in those markets, the report said.

This is not the first time Google has dabbled directly in wireless. Google wants to test an experimental wireless network on its Mountain View, Calif., campus using spectrum leased by Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR). According to documents Google filed with the FCC, Google is seeking an experimental license for an "experimental radio service." The documents request a two-year trial period and note that Google is using spectrum that runs from 2524-2546 MHz and 2567-2625 MHz. Those frequencies are owned by several universities but are leased to Clearwire. In November, the Journal reported that Google and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) held talks about collaborating on a wireless broadband service

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Forbes article
- see this DSL Reports article

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Report: Google, Dish in talks to launch wireless network
Google lost $433.5M on Clearwire investment, less than expected
Google will sell stake in Clearwire for $47M, takes loss on investment

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