Google brings 4G to Indonesia with balloons

Google has signed an agreement with three Indonesian telecom providers to provide wireless internet in the country via balloons in 2016. Google’s Project Loon should thus provide a solution to the difficulties in providing internet on the many islands.

Google is working with the providers Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata in Indonesia. The country has more than 17,000 islands, making it difficult to create a comprehensive network. Google’s balloons would offer a solution for this: according to Google, they can exchange data with each other if they are 100 kilometers away from each other.

The internet connection is via a ground station on the earth’s surface and the balloons transmit signals to remote places. Only one in three of Indonesia’s 250 million inhabitants would have internet access.

The project should start in Indonesia in 2016. In that year, Google also hopes to be able to form a full circumference around the Earth in the Southern Hemisphere with its balloons. These balloons offer 10Mbit/s via 4G standard LTE and can be launched with a few people in fifteen minutes, after which they can remain active for months. Currently, Google is testing Project Loon in Sri Lanka; that test will last until March 2016.