Google’s Project Loon internet balloons to circle Earth


Washington: Alphabet, parent company of tech giant Google, has announced tie-ups with three major Indonesian telecom operators to expand web connectivity in the country’s remote areas using hundreds of net-beaming balloons.

The initiative is part of Project Loon by Google X, Alphabet’s research division, which works on ambitious ideas, including self-driven cars, EFE news reported.

The inability to connect with family and friends or to reach out to people globally is a great disadvantage, said Google co-founder Sergey Brin, at a press meet organised at Google X headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The briefing, with one of Google X balloons as the backdrop, was also attended by Project Loon Vice President Mike Cassidy and representatives of the three Indonesian mobile service providers, Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country with more than 255 million people, two-thirds of whom have no access to the web.

Cassidy explained that the initiative has already been tried out in Brazil, New Zealand and Australia with a single service provider and was now ready to focus on improving global connectivity.

Cassidy added that around 1,000 internet balloons have already been deployed worldwide, and had flown nearly 20 million km while some of them had circled the world 20 times.

He pointed out that four billion people in the world continue to be without web access and highlighted a recent UN study, which claimed a 10 percent rise in internet penetration would mean a 1.4 percent annual increase in a country’s GDP.

Google X plans to make internet accessible to more than 100 million people in the next few years, via connections potent enough for surfing, video streaming and online shopping.