Project Loon is aiming to provide internet coverage to Sri Lanka, thanks to the Google-backed satellite venture’s first agreement with a national government.
The country’s Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, was bullish about rollout plans, declaring; “In a few months we will try [to] be able to say: Sri Lanka covered.”
However, a report in the Financial Times poured some cold water on such talk. The MoU between the country and Google has no timetable for the project to begin, it said. And a source added a launch was “highly unlikely” to happen in 2015.
“This is more of an agreement to have further discussions about how we set it up,” the person said. “Any launch is going to be quite a long way off — a year or two at least.”
This fits with Google’s previous statement that it is eyeing a commercial launch for Project Loon in 2016.
Previous agreements the satellite venture has struck have been with mobile operators, including Telefonica, Telstra and Vodafone. The agreements covered trials of Loon. Its initial trial was in New Zealand in 2013.