Google receives government approval to beam internet connectivity across India with Project Loon

New Delhi: Internet giant Google is reportedly working with the Indian government on their pilot project to provide Internet connectivity across the country by using large balloons.

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‘Project Loon’, uses balloons, floating at a height of 20 kilometers above earth’s surface, to form a network, that then beams down internet straight to smartphones on the ground. It has already tested this technology in New Zealand, California and Brazil. “Google approached the government to set up the Loon project and Drone-based Internet transmission. The government has approved the testing of Loon project and a committee under the chairmanship of the secretary of DEITY has been formed to work on it,” an official source told PTI. Google may initially partner with BSNL for testing this technology by using broadband spectrum in 2.6 GHz band. When contacted, a Google spokesperson refused to comment.

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The technology, used for 4G services, has the potential to replace mobile towers as it can directly transmit signals to 4G-enabled mobile phones. According to Google, each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40 km in diameter using wireless communications technology. Project Loon partners with telecommunications companies to share their cellular spectrum, instead of purchasing available bands, so that people will be able to access the Internet everywhere directly from their phones. Google uses solar panels and wind to power electronic equipment in the balloon throughout the day.

The source said that Google may operate as a technology service provider and not as an internet service provider. “The DEITY committee is looking at various aspects to facilitate tests like identifying locations and coordination with various agencies. Under the Drone project, Google had plans to transmit internet on ground using eight big solar powered drones, but that has not been cleared by government yet,” sources added.