"Google Inc. plans to spend more than $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to extend Internet access to unwired regions of the globe, people familiar with the project said, hoping to overcome financial and technical problems that thwarted previous efforts.
But satellites are more flexible and provide greater capacity. In recent years, costs to build and launch satellites have dropped sharply, according to Neil Mackay, CEO of Mile Marker 101, an advisory firm.Google Invests in Satellites to Spread Internet Access - WSJ
Consultant Mr. Farrar estimated that 180 small satellites could be launched for as little as about $600 million.
If Google succeeds, it "could amount to a sea change in the way people will get access to the Internet, from the Third World to even some suburban areas of the U.S.," said Jeremy Rose of Comsys, a London-based satellite consulting firm."