Google launched an initiative on Wednesday that aims to provide reliable broadband connections to developing parts of the world.
With Project Link, the company is installing high-speed fiber-optic networks in areas where the Internet infrastructure is inadequate or non-existent, the Web giant announced Wednesday. The initiative will allow local Internet service providers to offer faster Internet connections, providing people with new educational and professional opportunities.
"Africa is home to more than a billion people and is also the fastest growing continent. But only 16% of people are connected to the Internet," Google Access Field Director Kai Wulff wrote in a company blog post. "That leaves a huge population without access to new opportunities, such as a reliable channel to the latest news, a tool to join in worldwide commerce, or a platform to create and contribute photos, video, and more."
Google kicked off the project in Kampala, Uganda's densely populated capital, where Google said online activity often sputtered at "pre-broadband speeds." While providing faster Internet connections is key, another goal of the project is strengthening Africa's Internet supply chain.
"Some parts of the chain are already strong: undersea cables are bringing data to Africa's shores and mobile providers are expanding services across the continent," Wulff said. "We've now built quality infrastructure in between these points to deliver the speed and capacity that supports the latest and greatest of the web."
Google hasn't said when or where it might expand the project. But this is not the Web giant's first foray into providing Internet access to underserved areas. With Project Loon, Google plans to harness souped-up weather balloons to provide Wi-Fi to remote parts of the world. The company also launched a trial program earlier this year that will tap the unused frequencies in the broadcast TV spectrum, also known as white space, to provide wireless broadband in rural South African schools.