Google is working with the Indian government to start Project Loon initiative in the country, which will provide internet connectivity using solar and wind powered large balloons.
Started in June 2013, Google initially tested the project in New Zealand with total of thirty balloons to provide internet connectivity with small number of testers.
According to Google, Project Loon is a network of balloons floating on the edge of space, in order to connect people in rural areas, and help fill internet coverage gaps.
Project Loon balloons float twice as high as airplanes and will help connect to the internet using LTE or 4G enabled devices and mobile phones. Each balloon can provide internet connectivity to the ground about 80 kms in diameter using LTE. In addition to that, Project Loon balloons use solar and wind power to keep balloons running in the stratosphere.
In order to provide LTE connectivity, Google partners with telecommunication companies, thus in India, Google is partnering with BSNL for testing this project, which is said to be tested using broadband spectrum in 2.6 GHz band.
With regard to this partnership, officials said,
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.
Recently, Google launched Project Loon in Indonesia by partnering with Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata to start testing the project by next year.
Google is working on other similar projects which aim to increase internet connectivity across the country, along with other major tech companies like Microsoft – which will bring low-cost broadband to 5 lakh villages, and Facebook’s recent announcement to partner with BSNL in setting-up WiFi hotspots across villages.
These projects are all aimed towards more internet coverage which can really help Digital India initiative to provide all government services electronically.