High altitude balloons and blimps are being employed by Google in its effort to bring internet to the masses. Google’s goal is to bring internet access to wireless deserts – areas outside of urban centers in regions of Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where internet access is unavailable.
In addition to experimenting with various technology for wireless deployment, Google wants to use television broadcast signals (TV White Space) as an alternative to current wi-fi technology. White Space would allow wireless signals to penetrate buildings much better than traditional wireless signals, but Google must lobby individual government regulators for permission.
In a recent blog post, Google explains the desirability of White Space in their latest wireless experiments at Cape Town:
White spaces are unused channels in the broadcast TV spectrum. They offer the potential to improve Internet connectivity where they are most needed – in the developing world. Today we’re announcing the launch of a trial with ten schools in the Cape Town area, which will receive wireless broadband over a white space network.
White space has the advantage that low frequency signals can travel longer distances. The technology is well suited to provide low cost connectivity to rural communities with poor telecommunications infrastructure, and for expanding coverage of wireless broadband in densely populated urban areas.