Alphabet’s Project Loon partnering with Indonesia telecoms for air balloon Wi …

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alphabet’s Project Loon partnering with Indonesia telecoms for air balloon Wi-Fi test.

Google’s Internet-beaming balloons are ready to take off on the next phase of their mission to deliver online access in regions where most people live offline. Google parent Alphabet Inc. signed a deal to work with three Indonesian telecommunications firms to test its Internet-beaming balloons across the country, part of an effort to get more of the world online to broaden the audience for Google’s services. “It’s going to take a number of companies and governments and organizations coming together to provide communications to everyone, but we are super-excited to play a role,” Sergey Brin, co-founder of the Mountain View, California-based company, said Wednesday.Project Loon, the ambitious initiative to bring balloon-delivered internet access to remote areas and developing countries, is partnering with three of Indonesia’s biggest telecom companies for a country-wide test period starting next year, Alphabet announced today.Google parent company Alphabet is about to untether what could be the biggest trial yet of its balloon-powered Internet ambitions, launching Project Loon over Indonesia next year.

Alphabet’s X unit, formerly called Google X, is working with Indonesian telecommunication companies PT Indosat, PT Telekomunikasi Selular, and PT XL Axiata on the project, said Mike Cassidy, who leads the initiative known as Project Loon. Executives from the three companies — Telkomsel, XL Axiata, and Indosat — revealed the plan alongside Loon project leader Mike Cassidy and Alphabet president / original Google co-founder Sergey Brin at a press event in Mountain View, California. They will spend the next year using hundreds of balloons to perform tests of the technology, such as communication between balloons and ground-to-balloon and synchronizing the movements of balloon swarms, he said. “This testing is going to be very revealing to us in terms of how close we are to launch,” Cassidy said. “If all these tests go well it should be soon after that that we’re ready for a commercial launch.” Indonesia is a good test market for Project Loon as it is the fourth-most populous country in the world and is composed of numerous islands that are difficult to link to the Internet via traditional cables, Cassidy said.

The company will be partnering with Indonesia’s three biggest wireless carriers — Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata — to test Project Loon beginning next year. Google’s 2-year-old “Project Loon” program aims to change that by transmitting high-speed Internet signals from clusters of balloons floating about 60,000 feet above the Earth. “Over the next few years, we’re hoping Loon can partner with local providers to put high-speed LTE Internet connections within reach of more than 100 million currently unconnected people — that’s enough speed to read websites, watch videos, or make purchases,” Google said in a blog post. “From Sabang all the way to Merauke, many of these people live in areas without any existing Internet infrastructure, so we hope balloon-powered Internet could someday help give them access to the information and opportunity of the web.” Indonesian President Joko Widodo was also supposed to attend the event, but cut short his U.S. tour to respond to a mounting crisis caused by forest fires back home. The trial will have a far bigger reach than Project Loon’s other planned launch next year in the island country of Sri Lanka, which was announced several months ago.

Loon beams the Internet from balloons circling the earth at altitudes twice as high as commercial aircraft, helping mobile operators extend wireless networks into more sparsely populated or remote terrains without running fiber optic cable or building cell towers. Those tests helped inform Loon’s current approach of partnering with telecoms, which own defined parts of the spectrum, instead of trying to negotiate unused parts of the spectrum to use for free. In 2014, the project switched to a technology used in most wireless networks, and said it aimed to bolster existing networks rather than build a new one from scratch.

That kind of access could help Indonesian fishermen as well as farmers, who work in areas with no Internet infrastucture, said Dian Siswarini, CEO of XL Axiata. From there, the signal can bounce among various balloons and blanket otherwise dead sections of the country with what cellphone owners will see as a standard Wi-Fi network. The balloon-powered Internet project grew out of what used to be known as Google X, the secretive division that also spawned self-driving cars and Glass headgear. Telkom, the country’s largest telecommunication company, expressed reservations that Project Loon would compete with it, undercutting investments in fiber optic networks and frequency licenses. But the reorganization of Google under the Alphabet conglomerate has made X, and several other divisions, their own companies separate from Google’s core Internet business.

An air-based satellite network is especially useful in a country like Indonesia, the Loon team says, as the country stretches more than 740,000 miles across 17,000 islands. For Aphabet, the Loon project is part of the company’s efforts to bring online the more than 4 billion people around the globe without internet access. More internet users translates to more users of Alphabet products and services, especially Google search and its Android operating system, which is the world’s most dominant mobile software and especially strong in developing countries that prefer low-cost handsets. Facebook has an initiative of its own,, that it plans to pair with a fleet of autonomous and solar-powered internet planes its developed thanks to its acquisition of drone maker Titan Aerospace.

In June, Google signed a memorandum of understanding with Sri Lanka’s government, calling it an important step but cautioning it was still early in the process. Though their approaches differ, Facebook and Google are going head-to-head in the skies to become the go-to company for telecoms to partner with for high-speed internet access.

And Google says it’s working on features to help people with patchy data connections such as speeding up the load of web pages with Search Lite and making it possible for people to watch YouTube videos offline. Google Translate, which was introduced for Bahasa in 2008 has now added Sundanese, a language spoken by nearly 40 million people on the island of Java. Indonesia, with its youthful and tech-savvy population and the success of homegrown companies such as motorcycle-taxi hailing app GoJek and online marketplace Tokopedia, is increasingly attracting attention from technology companies and investors around the world. But the lack of broadband infrastructure and highly skilled technology workers have stymied digital expansion in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which has been growing at its slowest pace in six years. Indonesia’s population of 250 million make it the largest market in Southeast Asia but it’s still less than a quarter of the size of India and its tech companies are not as well known in the USA.

Mobile spending is expected to triple this year to account for 15.5% of digital ad spending and eventually will account for the majority of digital ad spending, eMarketer forecasts. “When people think about Indonesia, I want one of the first things that they think of is that we’re a digital country,” Shinta Dhanuwardoyo, founder of said in September at a tech conference to help Indonesian start-ups, according to the Jakarta Globe.

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