Google’s balloon-powered high-speed internet service known as ‘Project Loon’ began its first tests in Sri Lanka. One of three balloons that will be used in the trials entered Sri Lankan airspace. It is said that Google’s team of engineers will arrive in Sri Lanka over the coming days to conduct feasibility testing and work around flight technicalities.
In return for getting spectrum for the balloons, Sri Lankan government will have a 25% stake in Project Loon. Another 10% will be distributed among the local telecom operators. Ultimately, people in Sri Lanka will benefit on a large scale with Project Loon as high speed internet connectivity becomes cheaper and more affordable, which was the vision behind Project Loon.
As for the balloon itself, flight operators need not worry as the distance will be double than that of a standard passenger airline, which means it won’t intrude in the airspace.
Less than one quarter of Sri Lanka’s more than 20 million-strong population has regular access to the Internet. Sri Lanka, the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989, was also the first in the region to unveil a 4G network two years ago.
Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by Google X with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 18 km (11 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds.