Google backs satellite network for third-world internet access

Google is backing a multi-million pound plan to use satellites to provide internet access to three billion people in Africa and other emerging markets.

Google is backing a multi-million pound plan to use satellites to provide internet access to three billion people in Africa and other emerging markets.

The company has teamed up with HSBC and cable television company Liberty Global to set up 03b Networks.

They are expected to announce an order for 16 low-earth orbit satellites today in the first phase of the £426m project, reports the Financial Times.

The satellites will be used to connect mobile phone networks in countries within five degrees of the equator to broadband internet services by the end of 2010.

Initial funding is made up of around £11m from each of the partners and £3m from media advisory firm Allen & Company.

The three partners will make further contributions to the expected set up cost of around £100m, but said they could bring in other backers.

03b is to be based in Channel Island Jersey and is expected to sign up communications providers in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

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