Google Project Link
With this project, Google is willing to provide broadband internet to the African continent. According to Google, among the 7 billion people on earth, only 2.7 have an access to internet; which remain very slow for the most of them. This is why Google started its project “Link”, in order to connect those 5 billion people missing on the internet.
On the 22nd of November, Google started its project Link, in order to bring “faster, more reliable Internet to the places and people that need it”. They started this project in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, a 34 million people landlocked country. If Uganda had remained a strict dictatorship for decades, this country is more democratic since 2005 and even if it still applies strict death penalty, this country is on the way of progress. Uganda is an English speaking country, which makes it easier to Google to collaborate, and the high density of population allows Google to provide internet to almost 3 million people at once (considering Kampala and its suburbs). Moreover, this country is now relatively calm and safe.
So far, internet users in Kampala have mostly using pre-broadband speeds internet, which hinder them to use internet as much as they would want to. Those limitations are mostly problematic for universities, hospitals and companies, which need reliable and fast connexions in order to work efficiently. The current network is unable to keep up with the growing demand.
There is few communication from Google about numeric data on this project, it did not say how fast this network will be, neither for users nor for the total amount of data that those cables will be able to transmit. Google just assessed that this fiber-optic networks will “provide faster connections”. But according to experts, this project should multiply the average internet speed in the country by 100. Nowadays, the internet is crucial for the global economy, even for small businesses and developing countries such as Uganda will not be able to improve their economy without a performing internet network. Project Link is about unleashing what’s possible when cities like Kampala are better connected. If this project would be fulfilled, it would be a big step for the Ugandan economy because it will suddenly become able to compete with the rest of the world on the field of digital economy.
Even if Google is enhancing its image by leading the Link project, the company is clear: they are connecting Kampala (and many others African cities may follow) also in order to earn money.
In the United States of America, Google provide internet access to some areas, by being the direct provider. But here, Google follows a different strategy, it will deal with the local internet providers, who will connect their networks to Google’s cables, and then will be able to provide high-speed internet to Kampala’s users. It is very interesting to observe that Google believes in the potential of the African continent, at least in term of profitability.
Etudiant en Master 2 Droit de l’Economie Numérique à l’Université de Strasbourg