Indonesia Ready with Google’s Internet-beaming Balloons

Dated: October 30, 2015

Google Baloon

Google’s internet-beaming balloons are ready to take off on the next phase of the mission to deliver online access in regions where most people live offline. The balloons, which transmit high-speed internet signals, will now begin hovering in the stratosphere above Indonesia in an expansion of the two-year-old project.

About 250 million people live in the country composed of about 17,000 islands, although only 42 million have internet access, according to estimates from the CIA. Although the project is still being funded primarily by money that Google makes from digital advertising, it recently became part of an independent lab called X that is run by Google's new parent company, Alphabet Inc.

The Internet access will be sold through wireless service providers in Indonesia, where there the number of mobile phones – about 319 million – outnumber people. But most of those phones do not connect to the Internet because users can't afford data plans, or more frequently, live in remote or rocky terrains where it's impractical or too expensive to install the equipment need to deliver high-speed Internet access.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin sees Project Loon eventually creating millions of jobs around the world to raise the standard of living for now-impoverished people.

“The emotional distance of the world is shrinking, thanks to the communications we enjoy today,” said Mr Brin.

If things pan out as envisioned, Project Loon will deploy hundreds of balloons that serve as cell towers in the sky, invisible to the naked eye. To pull it off, the project's engineers must choreograph a high-altitude dance, ensuring that as one balloon drifts out of a targeted territory's Internet-receiving range, another one will float in to fill the void.

Eventually, Project Loon envisions dispatching its balloons to other unconnected regions in the world, ranging from small villages in Africa to the woods of California.

CB

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