First Google, Now Amazon: Tech Giants Want to Bring You Online
Amazon may be trying to establish its own wireless network, in a move that would integrate the company more deeply into everyday use of the internet, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources.
Amazon reportedly tested a wireless network in Cupertino, Calif., using spectrum belonging to Globalstar, a satellite communications company which is seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission to convert 80 percent of its satellite spectrum to terrestrial use. That would theoretically allow companies like Amazon to bid on Globalstar's spectrum for Wi-Fi networks.
Amazon already dominates online retail and produces the Kindle, the most popular e-reader on the market. In late 2011, Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire, a tablet computer that competes directly with Apple's iPad. The iPad led the worldwide market in tablet sales for the second quarter of this year, with Amazon coming in at No. 6, according to research firm IDC. Both versions of the Kindle have wireless connectivity.
Google is another giant company trying to assume the role of an internet service provider. It is making steady gains in its ongoing initiative to build a high-speed internet network using fiber-optic technology.
Google Fiber, as the network is called, is already available in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Miss., and the company plans to make it available in Austin, Texas, later this year. So far, fourteen other cities are on the agenda as well. And last month, Starbucks announced that it was partnering with Google to provide ultra-fast Wi-Fi in all 7,000 company-operated Starbucks locations across America.
And let's not forget Project Loon, Google's far-out plan to use a worldwide network of high-altitude balloons to bring internet connectivity to remote corners of the planet. Noble and altruistic as this sounds, it would likely make Google more or less synonymous with the internet among new users, opening up previously untapped markets for the company's products.
Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Entrepreneur.com. He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.