Project Loon

Goa maybe known as a travel destination with beautiful beaches and greenery, but the Goan government now is trying to transform the state into an IT hub, by attracting startups and IT companies. The government has thus initiated talks with Google India to try and bring the ambitious Project Loon Project to Goa.

If you’re unaware of Google’s Project Loon – the Internet for all program – is a research and development project aimed at providing basic Internet services to remote and obscure areas of the world. Under this project, Google uses large hot-air balloons that float in the stratosphere, almost 20 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, relying on 4G(LTE) partners to provide Internet services to its users. The balloon uses software algorithms to determine the path of the balloon and move into the stream of wind to flow in the right direction.

Ameya Abheyankar, the director of IT department told ET that,

Yes, we are in talks with Google on Project Loon. Since the discussions are on-going it would not be wise to comment but it is safe to say that there is a wider palette for discussion with Google and we[Goan government] should have something tangible in a few more weeks.

As reported earlier, Google is in talks with Indian telcos to share cellular spectrum that will help users connect to the balloon using their smartphones or LTE-enabled devices. Google is already trying to tap local telcos, like BSNL to use their bandwidth and gain acceptance from a larger part of the Indian masses. Several other regulatory concerns also need to be addressed before the tech giant can go ahead and test its Project Loon balloons in Goa. Several sources close to ET also suggest that since the service will allow users to connect with the service using their smartphones, the signal will be passed across the balloon network and back to the telecom operator.

The government however have expressed grim concerns over the safety and feasibility of Google’s over-ambitious project. The telecom industry high stakeholders believe that it will raise red flags for the civil aviation industry and the military.

The Mountain View based company has already tested the large Internet balloons in various countries including, New Zealand, California (the US) and Brazil. The Union ministry for communications and IT ministry are likely to grant Google a four-day trail period to test their Project Loon balloons over Andhra Pradesh or Maharashtra very soon.

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