Google is giving one of its biggest steps in the business of providing Internet infrastructure to install a fiber optic backbone connection to dramatically improve connectivity in Kampala, Uganda.
For Google the calculation is simple: the more things people do online, the better will be its core business of selling ads online. Therefore, the company has led fiber optic connections to homes in Kansas City and other U.S. cities and has played with the idea of launching balloons or zeppelins fleets in capable of sending wireless internet signals to rural areas all over the world.
The new network for Kampala, which was installed a few months ago but it was announced this week, will allow up to 10 mobile operators and internet providers for up to 100 multiply the data transmission rates in most of the city, which has about three million people. Connecting the mobile towers trunk connection with new fiber lines that, in turn, are connected with larger fiber networks and cables.
The majority of fast access up to two gigabits per second in some cases, is designed for mobile devices, but also internet providers could expand the fiber network directly to institutions such as hospitals and universities, says the director of field access to the Google project, called Project Link, Kai Wulff.
“Our goal is to connect more people in Kampala to a fast, quality internet,” said Wulff.
However he did not want to say how much the project has cost the company.
Regardless of the reasons for Google, this project should lead to a better service, cheaper prices and economic benefits for the people of Uganda, says the director of iHub, an incubator for start-ups in Nairobi (Kenya), Erik Hersman.
“Google’s strategy seems to be selling wholesale internet providers in Uganda, for much less than they pay now, hoping to trigger a downward stroke of the price data. If we are able to achieve a reduction in prices, it will be tremendous,” said Eric Hersman.
In fact, lower prices will be a key factor to extend Internet access to places that do not have a connection. Some 2,700 million among 7,000 million people in the world can access the internet and the lowest rate of connection occurs in Africa, where only 16% of its one billion population has some form of internet connection. But the Broadband Commission for the United Nations states that to increase internet users in Africa, prices have to be below five dollars a month (about 3.7 euros).
Wulff explains that Google has no imminent plans to connect to other cities. For now the company is focused on providing the business model in Kampala and encourage other infrastructure providers that imitate.
A major challenge will be to bring the Internet to areas that do not have any connection. Many technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, are experimenting with the use of television frequencies to expand broadband access to these remote areas. And just recently Facebook announced an industry coalition called Internet.org that focuses on expanding access to the Internet, which will target initially on improving the efficiency of data transmission in areas that already have connection.
Source: Google Africa Blog
Photo Credit: Google