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Report: Google splashes $1 billion on Internet satellite armada

Word has it that Google plans to spend over $1 billion (£596.8 million) on an armada of satellites designed to provide Internet to parts of the world that are currently off the grid.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will use 180 "small, high-capacity satellites" to orbit the Earth at low altitudes and beam down Wi-Fi signal.

The WSJ cites "people familiar with the project" as providing this insight - that could well be referring to Google's entire C-suite, or the honed hearing of Larry Page's favourite dry cleaner. The initiative will allegedly be led by Greg Wyler, who himself set up Satellite startup O3b Networks LTD, who has been busy pilfering engineers from rival company Space Systems / Loral LLC.

If true, the reports means that Wyler is leading a team of "between 10 and 20 people" that will report to Larry Page. The project is estimated to ultimately cost between $1 billion and $3 billion, depending on the Wi-Fi network's final design and size. The WSJ has hinted that a later phase (could double the number of satellites."

Aside from that, details of the endeavour are limited. However, it would be the latest in a series of attempts by Google to airdrop Internet from the heavens. We've heard how it's already running tests with Internet connected balloons, and let's not forget its recent acquisition of drone company Titan Aerospace to cover the Earth in Wi-Fi.

With a hat trick of Internet-giving craft, it's clear that Google's desire to connect the world borders on obsession. Clearly, cost is no concern to the Californian company – is it throwing technology at the wall and seeing what sticks, or is this triumvirate of projects part of a three pronged attack against Internet disconnect?

Whatever the answer, Google will know that providing the Internet to currently unconnected locations will crack open a cornucopia of untapped markets. By being the first to connect them, Google would establish its products and services as the default option – a shrewd move indeed.