Google gets Indian government nod for balloon internet
Google has got India's nod for its Project Loon which provides internet connectivity by using large balloons. The company may initially partner with BSNL for testing this technology by using broadband spectrum in 2.6GHz band. It uses big balloons which float at a height of 20-kilometres above Earth surface for transmission of internet services. The technology was already tested in Brazil, California and NZ.
Project Loon was a research and development project developed by Google with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. Each Project Loon balloon could provide internet access to an area of 40 kilometers. The balloons remain powered with the help of energy generated by solar panels. Google would only be a technology provider in India, not an internet service provider.
Project Loon was first tested in June 2013 in New Zealand's South Island. Thirty balloons were launched into the air, which then beamed internet to the first group of testers.
A Loon balloon had crashed into power lines in Washington in May 2014. New Zealand officials had briefly scrambled Emergency Services personnel when a Loon balloon came down on 20 June 2014. A South African farmer found a crashed Loon balloon in the Karoo desert in November 2014. A Loon balloon had crash landed in someone's front lawn, in California on 12 September 2015.
Google claims each balloon can provide connectivity using 4G, or LTE, technology. To use LTE, Google has partnered with telecom companies to share spectrum, so that people can access the internet directly from their phones.
Google said that it was in talks with the Indian government to bring its Project Loon to India. Mohammad Gawdat, VP of Business Innovation at Google, said that they were working very closely with telecom providers to bring this innovation to India. He believed that Loon would help in solving the massive internet access issue. Gawdat hoped to start the program in 2016.
Impressed by Google's project Loon, PM Modi believed that it had multiple uses especially in long distance education, rural schools and telemedicine. Google officials told Modi that according to their research, 160 million people could be lifted out of poverty if given internet access. Modi was given a briefing about Loon during his tour to the Google headquarters in the Silicon Valley.