Google's long-term goal of collecting and contextualizing the all world's data is moving along nicely, but some regions are still not wired up enough to facilitate reliable Internet access, thus giving the search giant massive blind spots around the globe. To address this glitch, the company is apparently working on deploying a fleet of blimps that would deliver wireless access.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal (citing a source familiar with the company's plans), the initiative is targeted toward parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. In addition to connecting users located in rural areas, the initiative would also be used to boost the connection speeds of those located in major city centers. The plan involves rolling out a combination of blimps that would act as wireless nodes, as well as structuring deals with local governments to use the airwaves reserved for local television broadcasts. Google reportedly believes that these techniques could connect up to a billion more people to the Internet.
In recent years, Google has quietly been working on raising its institutional IQ with regards to providing Internet access to the public. Currently, Google provides free Wi-Fi access to all of Mountain View, California, where its headquarters are located, and has recently introduced a new high-speed network called Google Fiber to cities in states including Kansas, Texas, Missouri, and Utah.
While these test projects don't guarantee that the company will have the ability to successfully negotiate connecting a billion new users in underserved areas of Asia and Africa, the project will almost certainly serve as the perfect testing ground for Google to experiment with new ways to deploy its access model back in the U.S.