Project Loon that Google launched in 2013 is now all set to deliver high-speed internet access to more than 100 million Indonesians. The programme, which is now in the hands of Google's parent company Alphabet, will begin testing internet-powered balloons next year.
Alphabet has partnered with three leading mobile operators in Indonesia -- Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata -- to help the company deploy the balloons in the country. Each helium gas-filled balloon will deliver internet access via Wi-Fi connectivity, using two radio transceivers, a flight computer and GPS location tracker. The company has claimed that each new balloon will last for 187 days.
The balloons will offer internet access just as cellphone towers with download speed of up to 10Mbps, using battery and solar power sources. "Loon balloons act like floating cell phone towers in the sky. Flying on the winds at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, each one beams a connection down to the ground; as one balloon drifts out of range, another moves in to take its place," Mike Cassidy, vice president, Project Loon, said in a blog post.
"We hope this could help local operators extend the coverage of their existing networks, and reach further into rural and remote areas."
The Loon team considers that the new air-based technology will enable wider internet access in the Indonesian archipelago of over 17,000 islands. This could also be a new model for other emerging countries where high-speed internet access is not yet available.
Remotely delivering internet access through Project Loon will not only connect people in Indonesia to the web, but will give Google an opportunity to get more users on its existing platforms like Search, YouTube and Gmail. This would also help the three operators expand their subscriber-base in the country.
"The Internet is still out of reach for too many people, but we're making progress. If all goes well, soon many more millions of people in Indonesia will be able to bring their ideas, culture and businesses online," Cassidy stated.
In 2008, Google had acquired Space Data Corp to help develop Project Loon in New Zealand. With the success of the pilot experience, where it used nearly 30 balloons, the company later expanded its testing across Australia and Sri Lanka.
Apart from Google, Facebook and Microsoft are also in the race to remotely deliver internet access to the masses, aiming to bring nearly four billion people to the web world.