(Mirror Daily, United States) – Facebook’s Free Basics project isn’t the only one attempting to bring the Internet to remote or developing areas. Google’s new parent company Alphabet will soon launch Project Loon balloons that fly 20 kilometers above ground, aiming to reach roughly 100 million people in Indonesia.
Alphabet announced that Telkomsel, Indosat, and XL Axiata – the country’s top mobile network operators – have already agreed to start testing the balloon-powered Internet connections over Indonesia in 2016.
Three-year-old Project Loon will be launching a network of balloons on the edge of space in an attempt to provide an Internet connection to people living in rural and remote areas. Due to their flexibility of moving with the wind, the balloons will form a wide communications network that will also help telecommunications services broaden their networks.
Alphabet has partnered with national telecommunications companies to use their cellular spectrum, and according to the project’s website, the balloons transmit wireless traffic from smartphones and other devices to the Internet via high-speed links.
Considering that Indonesia is a place difficult to reach due to its 17,000 islands filled with mountains and jungles, using balloons to cover gaps in the traditional broadband connectivity is particularly relevant.
In a recent blog post, Mike Cassidy, vice president of Project Loon, explained that Project Loon would render the need to spread equipment across the archipelago useless, being able reach the most remote islands. Starting to test the balloons represents an important step forward for Indonesia’s ability to become online.
Only one out of 3 people living in the many islands of Indonesia are currently connected to the Internet, but Google hopes that, over the next few years, Loon will reach more than 100 million currently unconnected people. Under the umbrella of independent lab called X within Google, Project Loon is in the company of other initiatives like Wing, a drone delivery project.
The balloons have already started trials in Australia, Latin America and New Zealand. Tech companies seem to have made it their mission to bring the Internet to underserved populations, which can turn out to be a profitable business for Internet services.
Facebook’s Free Basics aims to connect the other 1 billion people in India who don’t have access to the Internet yet, an opportunity which would lead to better health information, education, and other benefits. Mark Zuckerberg’s solution for boosting Internet availability in remote locations is via satellite, beaming free Internet services to Africa.
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