After Indonesia, Google is reportedly keen on bringing Project Loon to India. The Mountain View-based company is working in tandem with the Indian government to beam internet in the country, by using helium balloons.
PTI has quoted a an official source as saying, “Google approached government to set up the Loon project and Drone-based Internet transmission. Government has approved testing of Loon project only as of now. A committee under chairmanship of Secretary, DEITY, has been formed to work on it.” Google is eyeing a partnership with state-run BSNL to source the 4G LTE spectrum. It intends to set up the infrastructure to provide internet connectivity, rather than providing the services itself.
The giant balloons will act as mobile towers floating in the stratosphere. Each balloon can cover a ground area of roughly 40km in diameter. In India, Google will beam LTE signals in the 2.6GHz spectrum band. Those with 4G LTE-enabled devices will be able to access the internet from the areas covered by Project Loon balloons. The project will allow operators to expand their network coverage and deliver internet connectivity to remote places.
Apart from Project Loon, Google is also understood to have approached the government for using its Titan solar-powered drones to deliver internet connectivity. “The DEITY committee is looking at various aspects to facilitate test like identifying locations, coordination with various agencies. Under the Drone project, Google had plans to transmit internet on ground using 8 big solar powered drones but that has not been cleared by government yet,” PTI sources further added.
Google had recently announced its plans to start testing Project Loon in Indonesia from next year. It has tied up with three Indonesian mobile operators – Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata, to beam internet over the 17,000+ islands of the country. The company will begin commercial operations after a year of testing the service. Google is planning to complete a continuous ring of balloons following a latitude in the southern hemisphere.
BSNL has also tied up with social media giant Facebook to set up 100 rural WiFi hotspots across the country. As per the agreement, Facebook will be paying BSNL Rs. 5 crore for three years, to sponsor the 100 sites.