Google on the verge of getting government permission to test Project Loon in India

Project Loon in India has to work around the roadblock of sharing spectrum space with telecom operators.


Late last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had announced his objective of bring Google's Project Loon to India at the Google for India event. The idea was to bring high speed connectivity to rural areas. The balloons were compared to floating cellular towers, with increased range.

Project Loon in India hit a roadblock when Google wanted to use 700 MHz - 800MHz spectrum in India. This is a particularly expensive band in the spectrum, and used by telecom operators for telecommunication purposes. There was a fear that Google's Project Loon's balloons would interfere with the telecom services.

Another fear was that the balloons might interfere with civil aviation activity. The government suggested that Google tie up with a local telecom service provider for obtaining the spectrum, and invited Google for collaborating with the government owned BSNL. The government had asked Google to submit a fresh proposal to do this.

Google seems to have done exactly that. According to a report in the ET, BSNL is providing technical support for Google in realising the pilot. The balloons will be tested over either Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh for a period of four days. When the Loons were tested in Sri Lanka, they were actually launched from South America. The balloons float high in the stratosphere, on the edge of space, well above the flying height of commercial airlines. They are barely visible to the naked eye.


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