Google has announced that it will begin testing balloon-powered internet early next year in Indonesia. The search giant will be working with the top three mobile network operators in country - Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata - to beam LTE connectivity across 17,000 islands, targeting to reach more than 100 million Indonesians. Google via the 2-year-old 'Project Loon' hopes that it could help the operators extend the coverage of their existing networks, and reach further into rural and remote areas.
Project Loon’s balloon-powered Internet could bring 100M people in Indonesia online for the 1st time. Testing in '16 https://t.co/6XZtPhKC1g— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) October 29, 2015
Google said that Loon balloons act like floating cell phone towers in the sky. Flying on the winds at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, each one beams a connection down to the ground; as one balloon drifts out of range, another moves in to take its place.
Project Loon balloons travel approximately 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere. Winds in the stratosphere are stratified, and each layer of wind varies in speed and direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network, said Google.