Google to connect Indonesia with ballon-powered Internet

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Project LoonSearch engine giant Google announced it will begin testing balloon-powered internet over Indonesia in 2016, aiming to provide coverage across more than 17,000 islands.

The project “Loon” is an experiment to bring free Internet to people in remote rural areas using giant balloons floating in the stratosphere. The balloons should supply 4G-like speeds to the country, which would be a significant upgrade for Indonesia which has some of the slowest internet speeds in Southeast Asia.

And only about one in three of the country’s 250 million residents has Internet access, because setting up and maintaining mobile towers or lay cables across the archipelago has proven to be challenging.

The solution, according to Google, are balloons that float in the stratosphere, about 20 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The project uses ground stations that connect to the local infrastructure and beam signals to the balloons, which are self-powered by solar panels. Users can also use antennae they attach to the side of their house which can send and receive data signals from the balloons passing overhead. Each balloon can cover 40 kilometer in diameter on the ground.

The balloons — which once in the stratosphere will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye — are able to communicate with each other, forming a mesh network in the sky. However, Google has to replace the helium-filled spheres about once every 100 days.

Google says it will work with Indonesia’s three biggest mobile network operators — Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata — to test the project and maintain the efficacy of the balloons.

“Over the next few years, we are hoping Loon can partner with local providers to put high-speed LTE Internet connections within reach of more than 100 million currently unconnected people — that’s enough speed to read websites, watch videos, or make purchases,” says Project Loon vice president Mike Cassidy.

Google has previously tested the concept in New Zealand, the US, Brazil and Sri Lanka, but the Indonesia test will prove to be the project’s biggest challenge due to its sheer size.

Project Loon How it works

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Search engine giant Google announced it will begin testing balloon-powered internet over Indonesia in 2016, aiming to provide coverage across more than 17,000 islands.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Project LoonSearch engine giant Google announced it will begin testing balloon-powered internet over Indonesia in 2016, aiming to provide coverage across more than 17,000 islands.

The project “Loon” is an experiment to bring free Internet to people in remote rural areas using giant balloons floating in the stratosphere. The balloons should supply 4G-like speeds to the country, which would be a significant upgrade for Indonesia which has some of the slowest internet speeds in Southeast Asia.

And only about one in three of the country’s 250 million residents has Internet access, because setting up and maintaining mobile towers or lay cables across the archipelago has proven to be challenging.

The solution, according to Google, are balloons that float in the stratosphere, about 20 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The project uses ground stations that connect to the local infrastructure and beam signals to the balloons, which are self-powered by solar panels. Users can also use antennae they attach to the side of their house which can send and receive data signals from the balloons passing overhead. Each balloon can cover 40 kilometer in diameter on the ground.

The balloons — which once in the stratosphere will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye — are able to communicate with each other, forming a mesh network in the sky. However, Google has to replace the helium-filled spheres about once every 100 days.

Google says it will work with Indonesia’s three biggest mobile network operators — Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata — to test the project and maintain the efficacy of the balloons.

“Over the next few years, we are hoping Loon can partner with local providers to put high-speed LTE Internet connections within reach of more than 100 million currently unconnected people — that’s enough speed to read websites, watch videos, or make purchases,” says Project Loon vice president Mike Cassidy.

Google has previously tested the concept in New Zealand, the US, Brazil and Sri Lanka, but the Indonesia test will prove to be the project’s biggest challenge due to its sheer size.

Project Loon How it works

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