Providing the internet to the next billion has been the mission of many organizations including some big names like Facebook and now Google. Facebook had come up with its initiative called Free Basics with the aim of providing the internet to the rural areas of India and improving connectivity. This program was banned by TRAI last month as it was in violation of some rules of Net Neutrality and people felt that it provided an unfair marketing advantage to the companies and websites under the umbrella of Free Basics.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai managed to secure support for the Google’s ambitious Project Loon from the government of India and soon the magic internet balloons could be seen in India’s remote rural areas to offer Wi-Fi.
Rajan Anandan, Google’s managing director for India, told the Economic Times that Google has been in talks with telecommunication firms to collaborate on Project Loon, which sees high-altitude balloons beam speedy Wi-Fi down to remote areas in developing countries.
“The actual provisioning of the service is done by a local telco. So, we’re talking to a number of local telcos,” Anandan told the publication. “We can’t do a Loon pilot without partnering with a local telco.”
Ass per Google, the balloons are placed at an altitude of about 18kms and they create an aerial wireless network supporting a speed of upto 4G. Google will just provide the technology, the service will be provided by the local telecom company. They are in touch with a lot of telecom companies for this very purpose.
Project Loon is not just aimed at providing access to those without internet but this service can also be used in disaster-struck region to ensuring proper connectivity in those times as well. The project was initially tested in New Zealand where the balloons were able to stay afloat for quite a number of days. Since then Google has made a lot of changes and improvements and has made the technology better.
Google will not face the same problems as Facebook because Project Loon provides equal access to all websites. It has not yet been decided if the service will be free or not, but this seems like a positive step towards providing the internet to the next billion.