Google's Potential African WiMAX Play

Includes: GAF, GOOG
by: Ari Zoldan

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has announced an aggressive push to bring broadband internet service in to the emerging markets with a strong concentration into Africa.  It’s attempting to launch 16 satellites connecting half of the world. The search engine giant has teamed up with John Malone, the cable giant, and HSBC (HBC), the international bank behemoth, to set up what they are calling O3B Networks. Their mission in what seems to be a clear objective, is to bring an alternative to fiber, given the fact that the financial viability of running fiber throughout the continent is too expensive.

The announcement for ordering up 16 low-earth orbit satellites from the French aerospace company, Thales Alenia, is expected to be the first stage of a 750 million dollar infusion into the project. In addition, there has been a small contribution by Allen & Company, a media advisory firm, of 20 million dollars.

According to Larry Elder, product manager in Google’s alternative access group, “the project could bring the cost of bandwidth in such markets down by 95%”. He further states, “This really fits into Google’s mission to extend internet use around the developing world.”

This is an opportune time for the Wimax community to step up and take some very serious initiative to introduce its technology as a clear bridge for long range distribution to their end-users. The only foreseeable alternative to Wimax distributing the satellites’ broadband signal, would be Long Term Evolution [LTE].  However, the standards for this technology have not even been drafted. This is why WiMAX is perfectly positioned to be the alternative true access for optimal broadband in third world countries.

Potentially, this is a tremendous boost for WiMAX technology and all of its mobile applications. Several networks in Africa are already utilizing WiMAX technology and are being hailed a huge success. Assuming Google goes the way of WiMAX, its objective to bring internet to every single person on the planet is within clear reach.

Disclosure: none