Google X’s balloon Internet project looks to reach 100 million Indonesians
Google’s Project Loon is partnering up with three Indonesian wireless carriers to provide blanket Internet coverage to areas of the country that currently have limited access.
The tests will commence in 2016, and will see Google X’s huge, helium-filled balloons fly at high levels beaming down access to the web.
Project Loon has teamed up with Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata for the trials, with the vice president of the project Mike Cassidy claiming that Google wants to reach 100 million people in Indonesia that are currently without Internet access.
Project Loon was announced in 2013 and Google recently ramped up its efforts to expand the initiative. The company is also trialling the system with Telstra in Australia and Telefonica in Latin America, with the aim of delivering Internet access to areas where it might not otherwise be economically viable, such as in sparsely populated regions. Each balloon can in theory provide Internet access to an area of about 780m2.
However, one telco in Indonesia has expressed concerns about the project. Telkom, reportedly the country’s biggest telco, has said that Project Loon will undercut its efforts to lay fibre optic cables for Internet in some of the country’s provinces. But Project Loon said that it would share any revenue made with the telecommunications companies involved.
In September, Mike Blanche, the company’s manager for telecoms strategic partnerships, said that Google is not trying to compete with telcos.
“This is all about partnership, we can’t build this ourselves,” said Blanche at Huawei’s Ultra Broadband Forum.
We’re looking at ways we can connect people not connected, he explained. “There are still 4 billion people not connected.
“With both Loon and Titan, we’re working with the operators to connect areas not connected today or need better coverage.”
“We can only do this in partnership with operators. Google doesn’t want to be world’s ISP but we do want to bring innovation to solve the world’s problems together.”