Alphabet’s high-flying internet plan to prove it’s no crazy Loon

29 Oct 2015

Alphabet Inc, the new holding company for Google, has reportedly partnered with Indonesian telecoms operators Telkomsel, XL Axiata and Indosat to develop country-wide internet access using a network of solar-powered balloons. The companies signed an agreement yesterday to bring the so-called ‘Project Loon’ to reality, serving the nation of around 250 million people by sending balloons up 5,000 metres to deliver internet access over radio signals back to antennae connected to buildings on the ground. Project Loon is part of Alphabet’s experimental ‘X’ division, which is tasked with exploring far-off technologies dubbed ‘moonshots’, such as its self-driving car technology. Under Project Loon, the partners will begin to send up balloons next year as they assess where gaps in service exist in the 17,000-strong island archipelago, before deciding on when to launch a full-scale commercial service. Press reports note that Google’s holding company has already piloted the project in Brazil, New Zealand and Australia, albeit with a single carrier. Project Loon Vice President Mike Cassidy said the Indonesian partnership marks a first in terms of coordination of signals sent from multiple carriers, and says the service could eventually reach 100 million users.