Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, agreed with Olds and Gottheil that it could take 10 to 15 years to make the connectivity project work. "I'm skeptical because these kinds of initiatives never are achieved easily because they are just so difficult," he said. "Think of each country as a unique project. The scale is enormous."
However, the fact that so many large, wealthy companies are working on the problem gives him hope for eventual success.
If the project does work, the five billion people who come online will likely connect to the Internet through Facebook. That means they probably will use Facebook for a very long time and it means a lot more money in Facebook's pockets.
Olds noted that many residents in developing countries may not have much money to spend, but advertisers will still want to grab as much as they can.
"When you think about advertisers, they're not going to advertise the newest Lexus to these users, but they might advertise a bus service," said Olds. "They are burgeoning markets and there's very little competition. This could make money for everybody involved. This is one of the great untapped markets."
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