Google’s balloon-powered Internet service holds great value for a country like India in enabling the reach of Internet in places where it is difficult to lay down physical lines. All was well with Project Loon, until a recent hitch in the form of the bandwidth spectrum that the service will use. The proposed bandwidth for Google’s Project Loon is 700-900MHz, the same that is being used by cellular operators in India. If Google gets on the same spectrum as the cellular service providers in India, we may face an apocalyptic cellular issue in the country (as if the issues of call drops wasn’t enough). Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The proposed frequency band to be used in the Loon Project of Google is being used for cellular operations in India and it will lead to interference with cellular transmissions.”
Other possible fears include interference in flight paths, external surveillance and interference with military aircrafts. It is up to the search engine giant now to come with a plausible solution for the same, if they still plan start the service in India.
For those who aren’t aware, Google's Project Loon uses big balloons floating 20KM above sea level to transmit Internet services. The intention of this service is to get Internet connectivity where it is impossible or difficult to place hard lines. Project Loon uses 4G LTE connectivity to provide Internet services. The balloons use solar panels and wind energy to power the electronic equipment on board the balloon. Hence, once the balloon is in the air, it doesn’t need to come down for a long time.
The service is already being tested in different parts of the world. The technology is also a great option for India to get Internet connectivity to rural parts of the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also shown interest for the service as part of his Digital India campaign. Google was expected to launch project Loon in India as soon as 2016. Whether this service will be delayed due to the spectrum crossover, is something that is yet to be announced. The service is expected to hit Indonesia too, in 2016.
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