Seeking control of the Internet
A few months ago Amazon.com announced it was testing a system for using drones to deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps.
Most of us are most familiar with drones as pieces of warfare – most specifically as silent killers that use missiles to assassinate unsuspecting terrorists. The Central Intelligence Agency has used the weapons for several years to target al-Qaida and militant Islamist leaders in the Middle East.
But, as the Amazon tests show, drones have far more uses than simply as tools of warfare. This week, Google purchased a company called Titan Aerospace, developers of solar-powered drones that will stay aloft indefinitely.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook was also interested in the acquisition of Titan.
So why would these two titans of the Internet be interested in a small company like Titan? Apparently they see drones that will stay aloft for years on end as the perfect way to beam the Internet to unserved – and underserved – areas of the globe.
In this view, the drones would act as mini-satellites and towers hovering over areas like parts of Africa and Asia that have no infrastructure to support traditional means of delivering the World Wide Web.
It is not too far a reach – if the technology works – to see it competing in more developed countries against cable and DSL service.
Web giants like Google and Facebook are fighting to control the Internet. Google obviously sees its future as both a content and service provider. That will make it an incredibly powerful company.
Drone technology may be a cheap way for Google to compete ferociously against cable and phone companies as an Internet provider. If it is successful, it may make the old Bell telephone monopoly look like chump change.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.