Is Google Loon’s dream of Internet for every corner of Sri Lanka poised to take off?
For tourists who can’t live without the Internet, there are corners of rural Sri Lanka where connection speeds are either nail-bitingly slow or completely non-existent.
But online giant Google has the solution. Last year it successfully trialed Project Loon here—powerful airborne transmitters carried into the stratosphere by massive balloons that can connect the most isolated parts of the island.
As reported in the Guardian UK: “Google’s balloon-powered high-speed internet service known as ‘Project Loon’ has started testing in Sri Lanka ahead of a planned joint venture with the government.
“One of three balloons being used in the trials entered Sri Lankan airspace having been launched in South America, said Muhunthan Canagey, the government’s information and communications technology chief.”
Unfortunately, the Sri Lanka project instantly deflated when the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) refused to license the frequency bands the project needed to function.
But MirrorBusiness now reports that the dream is still alive, with Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando set to renew negotiations with the ITU.
Fernando said: “The ITU has some concerns. Google was a bit worried that it was taking time, but right now for the same band, I think Malta apparently has got the approval.
“So, I’m supposed to go to the ITU and again make a submission, that the same band has got it, so why can’t we have the approval?”
With Google Loon set to launch in Indonesia, Fernando said that if the ITU approves, Rama Corporation, the Sri Lanka government and telecoms partnership hoping to use Google Loon, will reapply to ITU.
Rama Corporation’s Chamath Palihapitiya pitched the Google Loon idea to President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015, when he said it would increase the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.2 percent per every 10 percent of the population that gains access to the Internet through Google Loon.
And it will also make the rapidly increasing number of foreign tourists who flock to our Paradise island very, very happy!