Sri Lanka officials said it would buy a 25 per cent stake in a joint venture with Google, to deliver a high speed Internet service powered by balloons which will make the country first in the world to have universal internet access.
Our objective is to extend coverage so that the entire island will be covered,” Mr. Fernando telecommunication minister of Sri Lanka said. “With competition, tariffs will also come down.”
Telecommunications minister Harin Fernando said the tests for Google’s ambitious Project Loon would take place later this month that will provide free internet through a network of high—altitude balloons at Ratmalana, a suburb of Colombo and could last upto a year. Google Project Loon is nothing but a research and development project being developed by Google X with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 18 km (11 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds. It was named Project Loon, since Google itself found the very idea of providing internet access to the remaining 5 billion population unprecedented and “crazy.
Mr. Fernando said the Sri Lanka government will buy a 25 per cent stake and a 10 per cent of the joint venture shares will be offered to the existing telephone service providers in the country.
Official figures show there are 3.3 million mobile Internet connections and 630,000 fixed line Internet subscribers among Sri Lanka’s more than 20 million population.
The helium—filled balloons, once in the stratosphere, will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely visible to the naked eye. The balloons will have a lifespan of about 180 days, but can be recycled, said Mr. Fernando who visited Google’s testing facility at Silicon Valley.
A deal was signed between Sri Lanka and Google on July 28, according to which free Long—Term Evolution (LTE) connections will be made available across the island nation by March 2016, making it the first country in the world to have universal internet access.