GOOGLE REPORTEDLY plans to spend more than $1bn on a fleet of satellites to extend internet access across the globe.
That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which has heard from "people familiar with the project" that the initiative - which Google tried before but was hampered by "financial and technical problems" - will start with 180 small, high-capacity satellites orbiting the earth at low altitude to deliver internet access.
Google has not announced further details about the project, but it likely will work in conjunction with Google's Project Loon, which will see it taking internet access to remote areas using networked balloons. However, based upon Google's recent purchase of drone maker Titan Aerospace, it is rumoured that these high-altitude vehicles could replace the ballooons.
According to the report, 20 people are working on the satellite venture, which will be headed by Greg Wyler, founder of O3b networks, who recently joined Google. The firm reportedly has also been hiring engineers from satellite company Space Systems/Loral LLC to work on the project.
It is thought that if the project is successful, Google will look to double the number of satellites in the future.
Google has yet to comment on the report, instead saying, "Internet connectivity significantly improves people's lives. Yet two thirds of the world have no access at all.
"It's why we're so focused on new technologies - from Project Loon to Titan Aerospace - that have the potential to bring hundreds of millions more people online in the coming years."
Facebook is also looking to bring internet to remote areas of the globe, having also acquired a drone company. µ