EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Google VP Mike Cassidy believes commercial deployment of the company’s ambitious Loon project is “getting close”, as scepticism around the technology begins to disappear.
Cassidy, who heads up the project which attempts to use helium filled balloons to provide internet access in remote parts of the world, told Mobile Wold Live that “more people are starting to believe”, with the company last month announcing an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to begin testing the technology as part of a joint venture.
In October, the company struck its first Loon partnership in Indonesia with Telkomsel, Indosat and XL Axiata to deliver 4G trials in remote areas of the country. India is reportedly next on the agenda.
“The balloons have now flown almost 20 million kilometres around the world, some of the balloons have gone around the world nineteen times,” stated Cassidy. “And we’ve done complete interoperability tests with some of our telco partners.”
Cassidy also said the company can now land balloons within 500 metres of a target after flying for 10,000 kilometres. And download speeds of 50Mb/s are being supported by the 4G balloons.
Cassidy was however unable to put a specific timeframe on deployment, with Loon sitting under the company’s ‘moonshots’ segment (an innovative lab dedicated to research and development of certain products/projects).
Operators including Vodafone, Telstra and Telefonica have also tested the technology and Cassidy said telcos are open to the idea of Loon, which he described as a “low technology solution”, given the huge cost savings it could potentially bring in comparison to the rollout of traditional infrastructure in rural areas.
Click here to watch the full interview.