Google is working on building up wireless networks in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and other developing regions, reports The Wall Street Journal. Google is said to be "deep" in the process of funding and building such networks, and is looking to partner with local companies and seeking to have local regulators open up spectrum reserved for TV and other industries. That spectrum may be so-called "white spaces," the portions that TV companies don't use but which are still licensed to them. After all, in March, Google announced a trial to deliver wireless broadband to ten schools in South Africa over white spaces, which would seem to be in line with the larger ambitions reported today.
Just last week, Matt Cutts, the head of Google's webspam team, tweeted to The Verge about his company's favorable view of white spaces as a means of providing internet service.
The Journal also reports that Google may be using some of its own "recently developed wireless technologies," though Google Fiber is not mentioned by name and would presumably be too expensive for this type of developing market. The report does mention that Google is involved in developing far more unusual new methods of delivering connectivity, though, describing "special balloons or blimps" for delivering data, which may be related to Google's recent acquisition of a company that makes autonomous wind-turbine aircraft.
The news follows on previous reports from earlier this year that Google was working on a "secret" wireless project, and that it was in talks with Dish on collaborating on wireless. Whatever comes of Google's reported wireless plans in these regions, it's clear that Google is progressing as an internet service provider, from "not a hobby" to something even more serious.