Sri Lanka to take 25% stake in Google’s Project Loon - Mobile World Live

Sri Lanka to take 25% stake in Google’s Project Loon

03 FEB 2016

Sri Lanka plans to take a 25 per cent stake in Google’s Project Loon in the country in exchange for the spectrum the government will allocate for the project.

It first announced plans to test the technology in July 2015.

Telecoms Minister Harin Fernando said Google has imported the giant helium-filled balloons and other equipment needed to carry out tests, which are expected to start this month and could take up to a year, IBN Live reported.

Loon is an ambitious project to use balloons to provide high-speed internet connectivity, and has so far been tested by operators such as Telefonica, Telstra and Vodafone. It uses high altitude balloons that fly freely 20km above the earth’s surface, serving as floating mobile phone towers.

The minister said 10 per cent of the joint venture, which aims to extend internet coverage to the entire island, would also be offered to the country’s telecoms service providers. He noted that ISPs support the project and that competition would lead to lower tariffs, IBN Live said.

Sri Lanka’s mobile broadband penetration is 38 per cent, with 3G connections accounting for the vast majority of that, according to GSMA Intelligence. Only two operators – Dialog Axiata and Mobitel – offer 4G service with just 44 per cent population coverage and less than a million users. 3G networks cover 90 per cent of the population, with 9.8 million connections.

Google said in October it has “almost perfected” its balloon technology. The same month it announced its first Loon partnership after forging an agreement with Indonesia’s three largest mobile operators – Telkomsel, Indosat and XL Axiata – to deliver 4G coverage to remote areas of the country’s 17,000 islands from balloons.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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