project loon

Project Loon May Have Run Into Rough Weather In India

December 14, 2015 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

Google comes up with many extraordinary ideas as part of its Google X projects, but only a few come to fruition. While the Space Elevator project was one of those non-starters to begin with, others like Calico, Project Wing, as well as the self-driving vehicles project, are already in advanced stages of development. Project Loon is one such Google X endeavor as well, which is fairly close to being rolled out commercially, after long-running tests in island nations like Sri Lanka and New Zealand, alongside larger countries like Brazil and the US. While the tech giant wants to take Project Loon to large markets like India as well, a recent report claims that the project may well have run onto a bit of rough weather in the country, thanks to a statement from the country’s Minister for Telecommunications, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad.

According to a report in the Indian media, Mr Prasad, in a written reply to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, let it be known that, “The proposed frequency band to be used in the Loon Project of Google is being used for cellular operations in India and it will lead to interference with cellular transmissions”. While not much else is known about the negotiations between Google and the Indian Federal Government, it seems as though the fate of the project in India now hangs in the balance, and will depend on how Google can negotiate with the telecom operators in the country, who seem to be not too happy at Google popping up on the scene.

For the uninitiated, Google’s Project Loon aims to bring internet access to remote and far-flung areas by transmitting signals through wireless routers placed in high-altitude balloons that fly through the stratosphere around twenty kilometers above sea-level. Meaning, the balloons fly at an altitude that’s safely above the weather as well as the fight path of commercial airlines. Project Loon initially used the unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz ISM bands that are used for Wi-Fi, and offered data speeds similar to most third-generation wireless technologies. Of late however, the tech giant has been offering 4G speeds by switching over to LTE spectrum, by partnering with local wireless carriers who own and operate airwaves in those particular areas.