Google X’s incredibly ambitious Project Loon is expanding into another country soon. Parent company Alphabet today announced that it is teaming up with the three largest wireless carriers in Indonesia to test its Project Loon in Indonesia beginning next year. Google is targeting Indonesia because it is the fourth most populous country in the world, but two-thirds of its citizens lack access to Internet.
Because Google X’s Project Loon is partnering with Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata, the company believes that the Internet it provides will be fast enough to do essentially anything on the web, including streaming videos.
Sergey Brin and VP of Project Loon Mike Cassidy announced the expansion to Indonesia today at a press conference in Mountain View, noting that it Google has worked with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to get the project of the ground. Another reason Google X is choosing Indonesia for its next Loon expansion is because the country has more than 17,000 islands and a generally rough terrain. Without an in-air solution, it could take years to give everyone in the nation Internet access.
Indonesian carriers are generally on-board with Alphabet’s plans to bring Loon to the country, noting that it would be nearly impossible for the general tower and fiber-based offerings to reach that market that Loon is targeting with its balloon-based service.
The WSJ reports:
Alexander Rusli, chief executive of Indosat, said it’s unlikely that Indonesian carriers would ever reach Loon’s target area through traditional cell towers and fiber-optic cables. Mr. Rusli said Loon technology is unproven, so his company has yet to decide how to pay for the service. One challenge is to prevent Loon’s signal from interfering with existing wireless networks as the balloons pass over cities where telcos already offer service, Mr. Rusli said.
Alphabet earlier this year announced a partnership with Sri Lanka to bring Project Loon to the nation. While Project Loon is an incredibly ambitious feat on Alphabet’s part, if it continues to expand to additional countries, it could prove to be incredibly successful.
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