Project Loon, formerly of Google’s X labs, is aiming to spread its wings to Indonesia. Its parent company, Alphabet, formally announced a partnership with three of Indonesia’s biggest telecommunications companies to bring balloon based internet connections to the country.
Telkomsel, XL Axiata, and Indosat are set to join Australia, Brazil, and New Zealand as the testing ground for the ambitious project. Project Loon essentially aims to bring high speed internet connections to remote areas, particularly those where it would not be cost effective to lay expensive cables.
The each balloon will float 19km in the air and provide a connection to an area 40km in diameter below it. Project Loon has been working on extending the operational time of each balloon, and has improved it to the point where each is able to stay aloft for 187 days.
We’re not sure how much of Indonesia is being covered by the balloons, but it will be an interesting test of their capability to traverse the vast distances between the islands that comprise Southeast Asia’s largest country. Impressively, these balloons are capable of providing an internet connection of up to 10Mbps through a WiFi-like connection.
The ultimate goal for Project Loon is to cover the planet with a network of balloons providing internet to everyone. Balloons are being used instead of satellites because they are easier to launch, and cheaper to maintain. However, Project Loon is also working on a network of internet providing drones that will provide the same service.