Since Google launched Project Loon two years ago, a lot of hard work has been pumped into it to make it the best project for providing internet access to remote areas where internet signals can’t be distributed via traditional means. Fast forward to today and it seems like Big G is all set to leave the second major wave of internet revolution in India. Yep, second because first wave has already been left by Facebook a few days ago in partnership with Reliance Communications.
According to Mohammad Gawdat, VP of business Innovation at Google X, Google team is already in talks with Indian Government to launch Project Loon in the country within this year. If all goes well, by 2016 company will be ballooning internet access to several remote areas of our country. Apart from government officials company is also in talks with some telecom giants as well to launch the service.
In case you’re not aware of the project, I would like to explain it with a skinny description here: basically it’s an innovative approach towards providing internet access to 5 billion people across the globe who don’t yet have any kind of access to world wide web. Instead of utilizing typical, expensive technological methodologies of providing internet access like setting up a whole network through towers and underground cables, it utilizes hot air balloons suspended 20 kms above the earth. The balloons keep moving across the stratosphere due to stratospheric winds and emit internet signals with help of Project Loon equipment and software that they carry. If you understand things better when shown visually (and I know you do) then you can check out the introduction video of project given below:
However, it’s still unclear that how Google aims to provide last-mile internet access to Indian customers when its balloons emit 4G LTE signals. If things stay in their current format then only 4G LTE supporting devices will be able to access the internet provided by Big G, which are obviously not owned by a majority of smartphone users in our country. Plus, majority of telecom companies don’t even have the license to provide 4G LTE internet access. Only Reliance Jio has a Pan-India license, so we may see Reliance in the show once again. However, this time it’ll be Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance instead of Anil’s.
One more unsolved question of the puzzle is pricing: Project loon is all about providing cheap and affordable internet access, something that’s not looking to be the cup of tea of Indian telecom companies these days. The conflict of interests at this point can halt the growth of project. Now which way this wind will blow will become clear only by the beginning of next year, so we have no option instead of waiting until then to see what happens next. But rest assured – when things unfold, we’ll be the first ones to tell you about it.