Written By: Will Lewis
VSU students soon may be able to literally look up at their internet service provider as the connect to wifi seamlessly both at home and abroad.
The revelation comes as two tech giants, Facebook and Google, battle it out to create a universally connected globe.
Currently, according to Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, 2.7 billion people are online, a number that sounds enormous until it’s revealed to be approximately a third of the global population.
In a promotional video for Google’s Loon project, the disparaging gap between those online and offline is again emphasized when the narrator says, “in some place no one’s online at all.”
Wiring areas for internet is normally costly and time-consuming, and involves hiring crews to lay vast amounts of cable underground. Soon, however, the infrastructure may literally all be in the clouds.
“There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy,” Zuckerberg, said in a Wall Street Journal article last year. “Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making Internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”
Early in June Google provided internet for the first time Campo Maior, a small village in Brazil. The service was provided by one of Google’s new Loon balloons, high-altitude balloons that circle the globe, using winds in the stratosphere for propulsion.
The accomplishment has the potential to ripple wide through the telecommunications industry. The Loon project is now trying to harness LTE technology, which would mean Loon wifi could reach smart phones directly.
The mobile broadband community is a massive market in the United States. According to CTIA-the wireless association, 89 percent of Americans currently hold mobile broadband subscriptions, and US consumers comprise 50 percent of the world’s LTE services.
By providing LTE services directly to mobile consumers, Loon and Facebook’s Internet.org could deal a serious blow to current telecommunications companies.
This could explain why telco companies are currently lining up to partner with Google.
“Every telco wants to partner with us,” Mike Cassidy, project director for Google’s ProjectX division, said in an interview with Wired.com.“They’re teaching us about what they need and how they can help.”
Google is already working with Vivo and Vodaphone.
Internet.org is also partnering with telco companies to bring internet to a worldwide audience, although through much different methods, by partnering with existing infrastructure.
Zuckerberg has already partnered with companies in the Philippines to make Facebook free to mobile users in the hope that it will spur them to sign on to a payed internet plan.
“This model isn’t short-term profitable for Facebook. I think we’re going to lose money on this for quite a while,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Business Insider. “But this is why I started Facebook.”