Alphabet Plans Global Network of Internet Balloons by 2016

project loon indonesiaProject Loon, the initiative by Googles parent firm Alphabet to provide internet to hard-to-reach areas using balloons, believes it is on schedule to create a ring over part of the world next year which would provide continuous data to people below.

The news comes as the firm announced that three of Indonesias top mobile network operators has partnered with Project Loon to begin testing balloon-powered internet in 2016, with the hope of connecting over 100m people to high-speed internet.

Indonesia has high levels of mobile adoption in its cities and suburbs, but many people still live in rural areas without existing internet infrastructure, meaning that only about a third of the population is connected to the web. The countrys landscape, with mountains, jungles and over 17,000 islands, also makes it hard to install mobile towers or run fiber optic cable.

Project Loon will send solar-powered balloons 16,000 feet into the air to deliver internet access via radio frequency signals to buildings on the ground, where the data is then relayed to mobile phones and computers. The balloons make use of algorithms to find the best winds that will carry them along their charted course.

“The internet is still out of reach for too many people, but were making progress,” said Mike Cassidy, vice president of Project Loon. “If all goes well, soon many more millions of people in Indonesia will be bale to bring their ideas, culture and businesses online. At that point, the skys the limit.”

Project Loon is one aspect of Googles attempts to bring the next billion people online, which include the Android One initiative to produce stripped-down low cost smartphones tailored to particular markets, and lighter versions of services like Search and YouTube, for areas where data connections are slow or unreliable.