On 28th of July, 2015 the Sri Lankan government and Google made history by officially signing the agreement to connect the island with a balloon-powered internet network. Sri Lanka is the first country to be deploying this revolutionary new project of Google, which is popularly known as Project Loon; and it holds the promise of giving unobstructed internet access to all the residents throughout the island.
While the internet has been able to create one single global village by connecting people all around the world despite physical distances or territorial boundaries, a large portion of the world population (two-third of the world’s population) is unfortunately still not able to become part of this universal movement toward being connected. This is where Project Loon comes in; the main objective of the project is to provide everyone, especially those who does not have easy or any access to the World Wide Web, a chance to connect themselves to the rest of the world with boundless internet access.
The air-based internet project will also eliminate the necessity of laying internet cables throughout the country, which will take many years of hard work as well as millions of dollars. Under Project Loon, high altitude balloons, which will be released into the air, will assist with easily connecting people in rural and remote areas, hence effectively filling the country’s coverage gaps.
What is Project Loon?
Project Loon began in June 2013 as an experiment in New Zealand. With the successful results which the tests were able to produce, the technology was further developed, until the first official and large-scale step has been taken in Sri Lanka.
The Loon balloons will be floating approximately 20 Km above the Earth, which is high above the commercial air corridors and mountain tops. The balloons, which are solar powered, will steer themselves with the help of the different layers of wind in the stratosphere.
The balloons, which are made of sheets of polyethylene plastic, is also equipped with special hardware which has the capacity to direct and dispense a wireless communications technology called LTE. In order to employ LTE, Project Loon will partner with telecommunication companies and share the cellular spectrum. The Loons will serve as “a cell tower in the sky” enabling people to easily access the internet through their smartphones and other LTE-enabled devices, despite where they are.
What does Project Loon mean for Sri Lanka?
This balloon-powered internet network is not only expected to connect the entire island with high-speed and affordable internet access to everyone, but it is also expected to bring many benefits to the developing country, especially in economic, telecommunication, education and public sectors.
While currently only 1 in 5 people in Sri Lanka have access to the internet, Project Loon will provide equal chances for everyone to enjoy the cutting edge internet technology, which will change the lives and the lifestyles of many. Citizens will be able to connect and interact with each other and the rest of the world quite easily and quickly.
The connectivity will open up new business opportunities for the country, driving in many financial benefits. The endless opportunities that will be created in the telecommunication sector will lay the foundation for the major role Sri Lanka will be able to play in the international community. It will also enable the country to maintain effective communication with the rest of the world, hence reinforcing their connections with their foreign business allies.
The affordable internet access will also provide enhanced educational opportunities to all the children in the country, especially to those in the rural areas. The airborne internet will help develop the technological aspect of the educational sphere in Sri Lanka.
The ultimate goal of the Loon Project is to bring the world community closer together, especially during times of disasters when they can use the help of the internet to connect with each other and share their grievances and help one another. The promising start of the project in Sri Lanka foresees a prosperous future where everyone in the world will be able to feel like a universal being as a result of easy access to the World Wide Web.