Google is discussing a possible investment in rocket maker SpaceX to beef up efforts to deliver Internet access via satellite, according a report by The Information.
The investment deal, which has not been finalized, would value the SpaceX in excess of $10 billion, sources described as familiar with the talks told The Information. Such a partnership would bolster both companies’ plans for providing low-cost Internet access to underserved regions of the globe
Representatives for Google and SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment.
Silicon Valley companies have been tinkering with ways to provide reliable Internet access to developing regions, while also possibly acquiring a lucrative new user base, without investing in expensive ground-based infrastructure. Facebook said in March it was exploring how to use “drones, satellites, and lasers to deliver the Internet to everyone,” while Google was reportedly planning to spend more than $1 billion to deploy hundreds of low-Earth orbit satellites.
Facebook was said to be interested in acquiring Titan Aerospace, the maker of a solar-powered high-altitude drone, as part of a plan to deploy 11,000 unmanned aerial vehicles over parts of the globe that lack Internet access. But Google upset those plans a bit when it acquired the New Mexico-based startup last April for an undisclosed sum.
Titan’s 20-person team is said to be working closely with Google’s Project Loon, an initiative born out of Google’s in-house skunkworks facility Google X to deliver Internet via air balloon. Unveiled in 2013, the high-flying balloons are solar-powered, remote-controlled, and can navigate stratospheric winds 12 miles above the surface of the Earth — far higher than most planes travel. And, similar to the way satellite Internet works, the balloons can communicate with special antennas and receiver stations on the ground.
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