Alphabet Will Put Their Stratospheric Loon Balloons on Trial in Indonesia Next Year

10. 30. 15 by Pat Medina
Project Loon Trials in Indonesia

Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, has recently announced that it has signed contracts with three of Indonesia’s largest telecommunication companies, namely Indosat, XL Asiata, and Telkomsel, for a series of trials offering high-speed wireless internet services from the balloons. No exact date has been specified for the trial, but Google expects the stratospheric loon balloons to hover over Indonesia by 2016. The Indonesian trials are set to test out the “most complex” parts of Project Loon in order to ensure that the service remains reliable “with a fleet of constantly moving balloons.” They plan to test out the balloons in “flocks” for even coverage, and they’ll also try out a system using high-speed data links between balloons to extend coverage. If the tests are successful, then Indonesia will be ready for a commercial launch shortly thereafter.

Indonesia’s Current Situation

There are many parts in Indonesia that have limited to no internet connection, and Telkomsel’s Ririek Adriansyeh said that the possible areas to be covered by the Project Loon trials are areas that were previously deemed “impossible” to provide internet access to. Building and operating cell towers and fiber-optic cables are often plagued by gaps between islands and thick tropical forests, so this has always been an issue for the country. The Loon balloons that are set to hover over Indonesia will be equipped high-speed LTE wireless technology, which is still relatively new to the country. Other trials are also being done in countries like Australia, Brazil, and New Zealand.

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