Good news for Sri Lanka, as government of Sri Lanka announced that Google’s Project Loon will provide affordable high-speed internet coverage for the entire country, beamed from balloons floating in the atmosphere. Google has teamed up with the Sri Lankan government to deliver broadband Internet to every region of the island nation, making it the first country in the world to have universal Internet coverage.
The initiative is part of Google’s Project Loon, which aims to provide cheap or free Wi-Fi to people in remote rural areas around the world via a fleet of huge helium-filled balloons floating way up in the stratosphere. This concept is same as Facebook’s Aquila.
22 million mobile phones being used in Sri Lanka, 2.8 million of them are connected to the Internet, so if the initiative goes ahead, it could change a whole lot of lives. “Hopefully in a few months every person and every device on the island will be covered by 3G,” Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Harsha de Silva, said on Facebook.
Since launching in 2011, Project Loon has been testing the technology high up above New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, and the US, but it’s finally ready to launch for real. The plan is to have everything up and running by early next year, with 13 balloons to be launched in March.
They will be floating twice as high as passenger planes – about 19 kilometres up – and receiving Wi-Fi signals from grounded stations below. The balloons will bounce these signals along to each other, and every time a balloon receives a signal, it will transmit it to an area of about 40 km in diameter below, allowing people to directly connect to the 3G network using their smartphones and other devices.
The announcement by the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry this week of the partnership with Google will see Sri Lanka, which boasts an area of 65,610 sq km (25,332 sq mi), become the first country in the world to boast universal internet access via the high altitude balloons. Deployment of the balloons is set to begin in the coming months, with the launches expected to be completed by March, 2016.