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Google taps gov't to test balloon-enabled Internet

Posted: 03 Nov 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Project Loon  Internet  LTE  4G 

Google is reportedly collaborating with the government for a project that will provide Internet connectivity to India's remote places using large balloons, reported the Press Trust of India (PTI).

Dubbed as 'Project Loon,' it is a network of balloons floating at an altitude of 20km above the Earth's surface to transmit high-speed LTE Internet connection. According to the project's website, it is "designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters."

Google has tested the technology in New Zealand, Brazil and the United States. Starting next year, it will also be tested in Indonesia.

An official interviewed by PTI said that the government has already approved the testing of Project Loon in the country. The Internet giant may at first team up with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, a state-owned telecommunications company, for testing the said technology using broadband spectrum in the 2.6GHz band.

Google, however, has yet to comment on the subject.

The solar-powered project works by connecting ground stations to the local Internet infrastructure. They will then send signals across the balloon network, which will beam them back down to the global Internet on Earth. Users below use antennae attached to their homes to send and receive data signals from the balloons floating above.

Primarily used for 4G services, the technology can potentially replace mobile towers. PTI sources said that Google may operate not as an Internet service provider but as a technology service provider.

"The DEITY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology) committee is looking at various aspects to facilitate test like identifying locations, coordination with various agencies," PTI quoted its sources as saying.

Check the video below to see the test done in New Zealand.

Apart from Google, other companies are also working on technologies that will bring Internet to remote parts of the world. Facebook is developing solar-powered drones that can stay in the air for three months, but the company has yet to deliver on its promise.

- Stephen Padilla

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