Google Is Launching 20000 Helium Balloons Across Indonesia to Improve Internet …

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alphabet’s Project Loon balloons to deliver Internet to Indonesia’s islands.

MOUNTAIN VIEW (California) — 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.CALIFORNIA: Alphabet Inc the new holding company for Google, has teamed up with three Indonesian telecommunications companies to expand Internet access in that country using solar-powered balloons.

Alphabet aims to bring the Internet within the reach of some 100 million people in Indonesia through its Project Loon balloons flying 20 kilometers above the earth. Alphabet officials, including co-founder Sergey Brin, and representatives from Indonesian companies Telkomsel, XL Axiata Tbk PT and Indosat Tbk PT signed an agreement to bring so-called Project Loon to the nation of 250 million people.

The company said Thursday that the country’s top three mobile network operators—Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata—have agreed to test the balloon-powered LTE Internet connections over Indonesia next year. We hope this could help local operators extend the coverage of their existing networks, and reach further into rural and remote areas.” Google previously tested Project Loon in New Zealand. The project sends solar-powered balloons 5,000m into the air to deliver Internet access through radio frequency signals to antennae connected to buildings on the ground. The program, which was first announced in June 2013, is the kind of thing that could pay off for Google in the long run — just the sort of thing Google’s umbrella company, Alphabet, was intended to foster. Mike Cassidy, project leader for Loon, said that “Indonesia is the perfect fit for Project Loon,” and it’s hard to disagree: a dispersed nation relying on satellite for its limited internet connectivity could benefit hugely from cheap, widely available 10Mbps connections.

Although the project is still being funded primarily by money that Google makes from digital advertising, it recently became part of an independent lab called X that is run by Google’s new parent company, Alphabet Inc. Project Loon is part of Alphabet’s secretive X division, where the company experiments with far-off technologies dubbed “moonshots” such as its self-driving car technology. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network that helps telecommunications services providers extend their networks. Alphabet frames Project Loon as a noble endeavour striving to get about 100 million currently unconnected people tapped into the vast reservoir of knowledge, entertainment and conveniences available online.

Alphabet and its partners will deploy hundreds of balloons in 2016 over the country of more than 17,000 islands in an effort to determine where gaps in service lie as part of the tests before full-scale service is launched. The use of balloons to fill coverage gaps where traditional broadband connectivity cannot reach is particularly relevant in Indonesia which is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands with jungles and mountains. But it could also enrich Google by expanding the potential audience that can query its search engine, watch video on YouTube, correspond through Gmail and click on digital ads. Project Loon vice president Mike Cassidy said the Indonesian partnership marks the first time it will send signals from multiple telecommunications companies through a single balloon, and that it will be the service’s largest deployment to date and could eventually reach 100 million users. “We’ve been kind of having an increasing succession of tests: tests for getting balloon flights to work, tests to test connectivity. Project Loon can help overcome the difficulties of spreading equipment across the islands, providing connectivity to even the most remote islands, Mike Cassidy, vice president of Project Loon, wrote in a blog post.

The Internet access will be sold through wireless service providers in Indonesia, where there the number of mobile phones — about 319 million — outnumber people. He added that it is a cheaper way to offer Internet service, especially in areas that have “jungles or where you have to reach islands,” such as Indonesia.

But most of those phones don’t connect to the Internet because users can’t afford data plans, or more frequently, live in remote or rocky terrains where it’s impractical or too expensive to install the equipment need to deliver high-speed Internet access. To pull it off, the project’s engineers must choreograph a high-altitude dance, ensuring that as one balloon drifts out of a targeted territory’s Internet-receiving range, another one will float in to fill the void. Indonesian President Joko Widodo was scheduled to attend the announcement on a trip to Silicon Valley that also included a stop at Apple, but he cancelled this week to deal with a haze crisis at home stemming from smoldering forest fires. The visit aimed to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in tech investments into his nation, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the fourth-most-populous country in the world. Facebook’s Free Basics service that offers free access to a few services through a local telecommunications operator has been criticized for creating a “walled garden” to promote a few services including Facebook.

Zuckerberg said the “zero-rating” or toll-free provision of services was not opposed to net neutrality, which has been recognized in the U.S. and Europe.

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