obal search giant Google’s Project Loon to provideinternet across geographies comes across as an intriguing idea, especially as it is to be done using floating balloons. The idea caused more curiosity in India when GoogleChief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a press meet on Wednesday that his company was bringing balloon-powered internet to India.
Earlier, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had on December 11 revealed in Parliament that Google’s Loon could create technical glitches as it would interfere with cellular transmission. The company then began talks with the government and it seemed the results were on Google’s side. More clarity emerged on Wednesday as Pichai and Marian Croak, vice-president of access strategy and emerging markets, reaffirmed that the “floating towers” would be launched in India soon. A positive response from the government, though, remains awaited.
Google wants to fully connect India, and there is a reason for this. India is the world’s second-most-populous country, next only to China. And, the country has a younger population when compared with China. With better internet penetration, a company like Google will be able to reach a wider mass of people.
To achieve this, Google launched RailWire Wifi in India in October, to provide free WiFi at 400 railway stations across the country, an approach different from Facebook’s Internet.org, which was later renamed Free Basics.
Google decided to further develop the internet connectivity in countries with poor connections through balloons. Under Project Loon, Google will use network of balloons travelling through stratosphere.
Google first launched Project Loon in New Zealand, and was later carried it to Brazil, Australia and recently Indonesia. According to Croak, who did not reveal much, the project, which is in the testing stage at present, has shown tremendous results; there is not much problem in cellular transmission and sharing the spectrum has solved many problems. She said they have talked about the issue with telecom around the world.
In Indonesia, the project was launched in partnership with three companies — Telkomsel, XL Axiata, and Indosat — said a Google employee who was involved with Project Loon in the country. Instead of buying a new spectrum there, they partnered with telecom companies and shared their existing spectrum. In India, too, the project would partner with telecom companies, Croak said.
The Project Loon balloons will travel 20 km above the surface, in the stratosphere, through which airplanes also fly. A software will be installed in these balloons to determine the direction of these floating objects. The balloons will form a network and deliver signals using the LTE technology. It will catch signals and redistribute them, making internet available to even rural parts. According to Croak, these balloons will be able to provide high-speed internet, like 4G.