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Google reaches for the stars: Satellites next venture for search giant, WSJ reports

Google is planning to bring the Internet to unwired regions of the globe via satellite, the latest effort by a major tech company to expand the Web to the farthest reaches of the Earth.

Google is planning to spend between $1 billion and $3 billion to launch 180 satellites, The WSJ reports. Even $3 billion is pocket change for the search giant: as of March 31, Google had over $57 billion in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet.

Earlier this year, Google acquired Titan Aerospace, which makes solar-powered drones and previously has experimented with weather balloons -- codename Project Loon -- as another means of delivering the Internet.

Related: Don't applaud Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten' ruling against Google: Blodget

"Like Facebook, Google is not just fighting for market share...they're trying to expand their market," notes Yahoo Finance senior writer Rick Newman in the accompanying video. "They've basically saturated everyplace where they operate...so they're trying to get more customers by going to places where they don't have easy Internet access so people can connect via satellite."

The bottom line is more people getting online is good for Google. Despite all the press about Google's efforts in robotics, driverless car, wearable technology, mobile software, and clean energy (among others), the company remains first and foremost driven by its core search business. With its Android platform and deep pockets, Google can certainly afford to subsidize low-priced phones for the developing world in order to put the Internet in people's hands in places where there currently isn't a telecom infrastructure.

Related: How Google overtook Apple to become the world's most valuable brand

Google's dominance in search and innovation in other areas helped it rank no. 1 in Millward Brown's annual BrandZ ranking but it's dominance in search is also garnering more attention from regulators, here and abroad. The recent "right to be forgotten" ruling in Europe was aimed squarely at Google, which last week started taking requests from individuals who want information removed. Separately, Google was recently accused of "illegally monopolizing" the U.S. mobile search market in an anti-trust suit, adding to a string of legal headaches.

Related: Is Google the New Microsoft?

For now, investors seem largely unperturbed by these developments but dealing with regulatory scrutiny may ultimately prove harder for Google than bringing the Internet to the farthest reaches of the globe.

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