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Gov't seeks Project Loon telco partner

Posted: 29 Feb 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:loon project  4G  LTE  digital india 

Keen to launch Google's Project Loon in India, the government has asked Google to select a telecom operator to partner in testing the balloon-based internet technology. The project aims to provide Internet service to all remote villages of the country, which will provide a boost to Digital India Initiative.

"Google wants to test the Loon Project in expensive and scarce spectrum bands. It has been asked to partner with any telecom operator that can meet its requirement and then approach the government for testing Loon," an official said.

The official said that if Google wishes to conduct a test with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), it can carry out the experiment in the spectrum held by the state-owned company.

"This approach should resolve the spectrum band sought by Google as well as security, to some extent," the official added.

project loon

The project aims to provide internet service to remote areas of India and replace mobile towers as the technology can directly transmit signal on 4G cell phones.

An e-mail sent to Google went unanswered.

In India, Google has approached the government to set up the Loon Project that has the potential to replace mobile towers as it can directly transmit signal on 4G mobile phones. The telecom ministry has formed a panel under the information technology secretary and asked BSNL to look at providing necessary support for the experiment.

Meetings in this regard were held in October-November. The project hit a roadblock after Google sought to conduct test in 700MHz (MHz) or 800MHz band instead of 2,500MHz band that BSNL holds.

The 700MHz band is the most expensive and efficient spectrum for telecom services and is yet to be allocated to any service provider. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has suggested including this spectrum in upcoming auction at a minimum price of ₹11,485 crore per MHz and a company will require to buy a minimum of 5MHz.

Google, under its Project Loon, is using big balloons floating at a height of 20 km above the earth surface for transmission of Internet services. It has already tested this technology in New Zealand, California in the US and Brazil.

As per Google, each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area of about 40 km in diameter using LTE (long-term evolution) or 4G. Google uses solar panel and wind to power electronic equipment in the balloon throughout the day.

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