back to article Revealed: Google's plan to float BLIMP NETWORK over Africa, Asia

Google is poised to flood Africa with uncontrolled connectivity via TV White Space frequencies, according the Wall Street Journal, though other wireless technologies will contribute to the mix. The report, citing the usual "people familiar", doesn't say how much Mountain View will be investing in the project, only that it will …


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  1. No Quarter

    Very clever satellites

    How are satellites going to use different frequencies in different areas?

  2. Ralph B
    Big Brother


    Blimps are so passé. Google should've gone with Tripods. We all know this is where this is leading.

  3. Gordon Pryra

    Is this before or after

    We get food to some of these -places?

    I know being able to serve adverts and give them face-book is a noble aim, but really?

    Sad that the human race is able to get its sales infrastructure into areas far easier than aid and basic infrastructure for people (roads, clean water)

    1. John Deeb

      Re: Is this before or after

      The biggest problem around the continent there being education and communication, not food or roads, perhaps it's not a bad idea. Then again, it's not just information which sets us free. A lot of other things need to be in place for information to function. Perhaps will function like alcohol to native Americans, to drag in another stereotype.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Is this before or after

        Starvation in africa isn't caused by a lack of food. The majority of the continent is so fertile that you can find something to eat all year round without really trying.

        The problem is surviving the disease and war endemic to vast swathes of the continent long enough to eat your lunch. Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa until it was torn apart by an authoritarian madman. The most fertile piece of ground on earth reduced to starvation.

        Even in the north of the continent food grows quite easily. The perpetual ethiopian famine was caused by the wars with eritrea and somalia. It's hard to grow food to survive when infantry battalions keep yomping over your field and dropping landmines everywhere. There would be little starvation in africa were it not for the dictators and warlords that we prop up with all that feel-good foreign aid we keep sending.

    2. Elmer Phud

      Re: Is this before or after

      "Sad that the human race is able to get its sales infrastructure into areas far easier than aid and basic infrastructure for people (roads, clean water)"

      Commerce is king, with big companies 'altruism' usually has a high price.

    3. John 62

      Re: Is this before or after

      Africa is big. Really big. Sudan alone is about the size of the EU. Sometimes water and food aren't the biggest problem, the problem is contact with the rest of the world, which in some places is only reliably (or safely) traversed by plane. People need connectivity, whether it's just to get the local market prices, learn something, talk to friends and family or particularly to call a doctor.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: Is this before or after

        > Sudan alone is about the size of the EU.

        Actually, Sudan has somewhat over half the area of the EU. Otherwise your points stand.

    4. Filippo

      Re: Is this before or after

      Okay, but Google isn't in the business of food and roads and water. It's in the business of Internet. If Internet gets there before food, roads and water, it's the food, roads and water guys that are to blame, not the Internet guys.

    5. David 164

      Re: Is this before or after

      This will help with that by providing them with decent communications systems we can provide them with weather reports, drought warnings, which could increase crops yields.

      Cattle farmers can get access to veterinary services, learn how to look after their cattle better, arrange cattle trades over a wider area.

      One a wider note these services would be use to better communicate problems with corrupt local officials, report bandits, problems with roads. Better communications allows for better education.

  4. mathew42

    Open up communication and you can change lives.

    - Community workers suddenly have reliable communication to head office for advice and training

    - Teachers can receive training and access resources

    - Students can expand their knowledge

    - Farmers can research prices, access weather forecasts

    The list is endless and it really does work.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course the Warlords will just sit back and allow this

    Of course the Warlords in the area will just sit back and allow Google to put up a large number of blimps that are also just perfect for mounting cameras on, the better to have 24/7 visibility of what is going on below, and won't take to attempting to shoot them down, with SAMs if needed (since the blimps will be out of small-arms range), or by attacking the ground-based tethers needed to keep them in place.

    Which is a crying shame, as that is exactly the sort of thing that might help the locals break the cycle of poverty they are in.

    1. Ru

      Re: Of course the Warlords will just sit back and allow this

      It may startle you to learn that not all of Africa is a poverty stricken desert filled with the starving and oppressed serfs of the local warmongering kleptocrat.

      If nothing else, have a think about exactly how much value Google could extract from such a place... "precious little", to put it politely. Regardless of how altruistic Google might be, they're not total idiots and will have done at least the bare minimum of due diligence with regards to the state of the local economy and political stability, because they probably don't want their shiny new kit to be blown up or left unused.

    2. Tom 35

      Re: Of course the Warlords will just sit back and allow this

      Don't forget the religious nut jobs. I'm sure they will think this falls under "western education".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe the warlords will be happy to have it?

      How exactly will the warlords stop it, if they untethered and high enough that even those warlords that get ahold of shoulder launched SAMs can't reach them?

      I think a bigger concern is that the warlords might get more out of this development than those they're oppressing. This would greatly improve their ability to oversee and communicate with their soldiers. One guy working for them sees a convoy loaded with food driving by, alerts HQ, and HQ alerts the nearest unit to deploy a roadblock and take the food. That would be an unfortunate improvement over the haphazard way this is accomplished now (which is mostly randomly set up roadblocks being in the right place at the right time)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    How hard would it be to use a Lifter (ionocraft) based system with flexible solar cells to supplement lift?

    Land it once in a while to do routine maintenance and cleaning etc, and voila.

    Adding internal storage to each blimp would also be a good idea, 1TB of Flash doesen't weigh a lot these days and would go a long way towards reducing latency for frequently used pages such as Wikipedia and BBC News.

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