The Sun (Malaysia)

Google to test ‘internet via balloons’ project in Indonesia


SAN FRANCISCO: Google will next year step up testing of its internet-beaming helium balloons in the stratosphe­re after striking deals with three Indonesian mobile network operators, it said on Wednesday.

The ambitious “Project Loon” is aimed at delivering internet connection­s to remote or impoverish­ed areas worldwide using a floating network of thousands of the high-tech balloons.

Once on the edge of space, the balloons will be twice as high as commercial airliners, above any bad weather and barely visible to the naked eye, Google says.

First tests were carried out in New Zealand in 2013.

Indonesia is a good candidate for further testing because only a third of its 250 million people has access to the internet, many of them only at slow speeds, Mike Cassidy, vice-president of Project Loon, said in a blog post.

Indonesia comprises thousands of islands, some of them jungle or mountainou­s, which make it tricky to run fibre optic cable or install mobile phone towers.

“Over the next few years we’re hoping that Loon will help put high-speed LTE internet connection­s within reach of more than 100 million Indonesian­s,” Cassidy said.

The tests next year will be with Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata, he added. – AFP

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