Google "Project Loon" balloon enters SL for Internet tests

2016-02-15 23:12:43

Google's balloon-powered high-speed Internet service known as "Project Loon" began its first tests in Sri Lanka Monday ahead of a planned joint venture with Colombo, the country's top IT official said.

One of three balloons that will be used in the trials entered Sri Lankan airspace Monday, the Information and Communication Technology Agency chief Muhunthan Canagey said.

"The first balloon entered our airspace this morning. It was launched from South America." Canagey told AFP. "It is currently over southern Sri Lanka."

He said a Google team was expected later this week to test flight controls, spectrum efficiency and other technical matters.

The government announced earlier this month it would take a 25 percent stake in a joint venture with Google to deliver a high-speed Internet service powered by helium-filled balloons.

Sri Lanka is not investing any capital, but will take the stake in return for allocating spectrum for the project. A further 10 percent of the joint venture would be offered to existing telephone service providers on the island.

It promises to extend coverage and cheaper rates for data services.

Service providers will be able to access higher speeds and improve the quality of their existing service once the balloon project is up and running.

The balloons, once in the stratosphere, will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye. The balloons will have a lifespan of about 180 days, but can be recycled, according to Sri Lankan officials involved in the venture.

Official figures show there are 3.3 million mobile Internet connections and 630,000 fixed line Internet subscribers among Sri Lanka's more than 20 million population.

Sri Lanka became the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989 and the first to roll out a 3G network in 2004. It was also the first in the region to unveil a 4G network two years ago. (Source: Daily mail)

  Comments - 4

  • saman Tuesday, 16 February 2016 03:29

    Balloons for the loons in SL from Google!

    Reply : 2       0

    Sanuka Tuesday, 16 February 2016 04:09

    Hopefully Sri Lankas will get the internet for cheaper and faster after this project.

    Reply : 0       2

    ahamed Tuesday, 16 February 2016 11:34

    We are always testing others bloons, another credit program....jai ho mother of ceylon..

    Reply : 2       0

    Giabao Tuesday, 16 February 2016 14:46

    I am not sure if this is a good move. I hope this will not result in closing of other existing businesses like what happened when this new govt brought in a free ambulance service.

    Reply : 2       0

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