Google said to deploy Wi-Fi blimps in Africa and Asia

The Web giant is reportedly creating airborne wireless networks to bring Internet access to some of the world's hard-to-reach regions.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Drawing for a patent Google filed in 2000 called the "High altitude platform control system." Google

How can the Internet be brought to areas that have no infrastructure for high-speed wireless? Beam the Wi-Fi networks down from flying objects, of course.

Google is reportedly working on creating wireless networks for more remote parts of the world, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, with sky-bound balloons and blimps, according to Wired.

Dubbed "high-altitude platforms," these mechanisms will reportedly be able to connect roughly a billion more people to the Internet worldwide, according to Wired. The blimps signals are said to be able to reach people in areas that are hundreds of square miles.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is going into the cellular business in Africa and Asia in an effort to connect more people to the Internet. Citing anonymous sources, the news source reported that the networks would be available outside of big cities, where service is spotty or not available.

Besides the Wi-Fi blimps, Google is reportedly also considering a satellite-based wireless system, along with testing other kinds of wireless frequencies, according to the Wall Street Journal. "There's not going to be one technology that will be the silver bullet," an anonymous source told the Journal.

It appears that Google has been working on high-altitude platforms for quite some time. In 2000, the company filed a patent application for a "High altitude platform control system," which involved creating an "aerospace vehicle" that could "improve the reliability of a communications system."

Also, Google isn't the only company that has been working on creating communication networks via blimps and balloons. Lockheed Martin and GlobeTel Communications have also been working on such inventions. And, the company Space Data already operates a network of high-altitude, balloon-borne transceivers known as SkySite Platforms, which serve as wireless towers.

When contacted by CNET, Google declined to comment.