Google’s Project Loon Balloons Will Provide Sri Lanka Wi-Fi Internet
Google’s plan to bring internet to the world via balloon is getting off the ground in central Asia. The government of Sri Lanka announced this week that Google’s Project Loon will provide “affordable high-speed” internet coverage for the entire country, beamed from balloons floating in the atmosphere. Sri Lanka will become the first country in the region with complete internet coverage.
So, how long until we see results? Not long, as Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera has mentioned plans for the country to be covered in “a few months.”
Some Stats About Sri Lanka — There’s Plenty of Room for Wi-Fi Internet Growth
- Island size is 24,954 square miles, roughly equal to the area of West Virginia
- Population a little more than 22 million
- Mobile Internet connections currently in Sri Lanka: about 2.8 million
- Wired Internet connections currently in Sri Lanka: about 660,000
Background of Project Loon
Google has been prototyping different balloon designs for at least the last two years. The Sri Lanka project will be the first mass-scale application of the floating, high-altitude WiFi routers, which emerged from the secretive Google X research lab in Mountain View in 2013 and have since been tested in the California Central Valley and New Zealand.
Project Loon’s latest balloon iteration is called the Nighthawk, a collaboration between the Loon team and aerospace designer Raven Aerostar. The Nighthawks will be outfitted with LTE antennas to send data to mobile phones, and capable of transmission from balloon to balloon and to telecommunication stations on the ground. The balloons are slated to stay in the air for 100 days at a time.
Sri Lanka is an island nation-state in the Indian Ocean, off the southern tip of India. For a detailed look at Sri Lanka, see The Nations Encyclopedia.