WSJ: Start-Up Seeks to Link 3 Billion to Net


An entrepreneur’s quest to use satellites to bring high-speed Internet service to poor, remote countries is nearing liftoff with a major investment from some big names, including Google Inc.

On Tuesday, O3b Networks Ltd., founded and run by 38-year-old telecommunications entrepreneur Greg Wyler, is expected to announce plans to launch as many as 16 satellites that could provide service to Africa, the Middle East and parts of Latin America by the end of 2010.

The undertaking, expected to cost about $650 million, has initial backing of about $60 million from investors that include HSBC Holdings PLC, Allen & Company, and Liberty Global Inc., in addition to Google.

While most of the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Internet users reside in developed countries, telecom companies are looking at fast growth in areas like Africa and the Middle East, where the number is jumping by 50% or more each year.