Recently, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been enjoying the limelight in the technology world, and a few new efforts from the company show that it doesn’t plan to step out of center stage anytime too soon.
Over the past decade or so, Google has been gaining prominence in a number of roles; its search engine quickly moved to the top of the ranks, its web browser has grown to become among the most used browsers, its email and map services have become some of the most popular, and its smartphone operating system is dominating in worldwide market share. That’s not even all of the ways Google’s is championing the technology industry.
Despite leads in a number of areas, there are still some points at which Google will have to work its way into the upper echelon. Its more complete operating system, Chrome OS, still has a ways to go to compete directly with Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows or Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) operating systems. Google also recently launched Google Play Music All Access, which could quickly begin to compete on level with Pandora (NYSE:P) and other music-streaming services.
One thing that Google has been working on a little bit more slowly has been its role as a wireless and Internet service provider. In recent years, Google has been rolling out Google Fiber and even some wireless services, but it’s done so only on a very limited scale.
Now, with many other products and services already put in place, it might be time for Google to make the push to build up a strong service provider role. It is looking like Africa might be the testing ground for Google in this industry.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google is working to “fund, build, and help run wireless networks in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.” In these regions, Google may try building up a TV white space network, as it has already begun a trial of the technology in South Africa.
TV Signals are relatively strong and thus have great range, traveling over mountains and through forests. Of course, Internet providers can’t just go using the frequencies that are already licenses to TV broadcasters, but there are some frequencies, called “white space,” that aren’t being used by broadcasters in various areas.
The U.S. has already made rules on how its white space can be used, and Google is looking to take advantage of the open airwaves. The trial in Africa could prove the viability of using white space for Internet connectivity.
Google’s ambition isn’t likely going to fall solely on the side of providing the Internet service. As always, Google probably sees a chance for synergy. Ensuring that people all around the world have access to high-speed internet also means ensuring that those people can be customers of Google’s online products and smart devices. Just as Google’s dominance in mobile operating systems helps it bring in loads of extra advertising dollars, the extension of Internet services could help increase Android usage, thus increasing advertising revenue even more. The focus on emerging markets is especially noteworthy, as Google has had great luck against other mobile operating systems in emerging markets, while Apple has received more favor in some developed markets.
Such moves into Internet provider roles would give Google an even stronger and unwavering presence in the technology industry, but it isn’t the only one making the push. Microsoft is also working on white space Internet technologies, rolling out the technology in Tanzania. Microsoft has a strong presence in all the same areas listed above for Google — though its mobile operating system is quite a bit smaller — and it could prove a worthy competitor in the Internet service provider business.
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