Google does a lot of very weird things. It has a top-secret lab working on dozens of projects we don’t know about. It builds fiber networks mostly because it has the money and is sick of dealing with ISPs. And now, apparently, it’s going to connect places with no Internet infrastructure by using blimps.
Honestly, we question how important it is that the Third World get on the Internet as opposed to, say, sending humanitarian aid. But it can’t hurt, and entitled white kids on an “adventure” will be able to get a decent signal to post pics to Instagram with.
These wireless networks would serve areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia to dwellers outside of major cities where wired Internet connections aren’t available, said people familiar with the strategy. The networks also could be used to improve Internet speeds in urban centers, these people said.
Google is also developing cheap hardware to use on these networks, bringing the joy of fart apps to people who live on less than the average American’s coffee budget. Sarcasm aside, it’ll be good to connect these remote areas: there are real benefits ranging from citizen journalism to better medical treatment. And it’s been shown in the past that networks like this can provide real benefit to those living there.
On the other hand, you also have to wonder what deals Google will have to cut to get these things in the air. While Africa and Southeast Asia are hardly as bad as the news tends to portray them, there are oppressive regimes and other assorted unpleasant types who really do not want Westerners to, say, find out that they’re running their country into the ground. Google may mean well, but it’s likely sooner or later to find itself embroiled in more local politics than it cares to be involved in.