Google, Liberty Global, and HSBC are backing a start-up called O3b Networks named for its ambition to bring Internet access to the "other 3 billion" people who lack it today.
The effort has begun initial production of 16 low-cost satellites that collectively will provide an Internet backbone to places lacking high-speed networking cable, including emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, O3b said. The satellites will link with ground stations such as cell towers or WiMax stations that actually reach the customers.
"The O3b Networks system will completely change the economics of telecommunications infrastructure in the world's fastest-growing markets for communications services," O3b said in a statement Tuesday.
The service should become active in 2010, the company said, and more satellites are a future option.
Google has aggressively pushed for more widespread Internet access, including municipal Wi-Fi and other wireless networking, which the company believes will increase its user base and its engagement with online services. That of course also could help sustain growth in Google's ad business.
"O3B's model empowers local entrepreneurs and companies to deliver Internet and mobile services to those in currently under served or remote locations at speeds necessary to power rich web based applications," said Larry Alder, product manager for Google's Alternative Access Team, in a statement.