ICTA says Loon Project not abandoned | Sunday Observer

ICTA says Loon Project not abandoned

Project Loon will get off ground with the arrival of balloons from Google next month, Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) Program Manager Information Infrastructure, S. Gavashkar told the Business Observer.

Dismissing rumours about the failure in getting the project off the ground and Google abandoning the project in Sri Lanka, Gavashkar said the next test will take place after the balloons arrive and the rest of the procedure will follow thereafter.

“We are confident the test will be successful as in the previous instances and the project will get off ground bringing a host of benefits with high speed broadband connectivity to the country,” Gavashkar said.

With regard to the location of the next test and the number of balloons, he said the location will be decided after the balloons arrive and added that ICTA expects around five to six balloons to come to the country.

Scoffing at criticism and speculation in the media about the failure of the first test, Gavashkar said the first test was successful and met all the specifications.

“Officials of ICTA, the Ministry of Defence and the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission held a discussion with Google officials regarding the project recently,” Gavashkar said.

He said commercial operations will be launched about 12 months after ground and balloon infrastructure tests are completed.

“Any project has formalities to be carried out before conducting full scale operations,” Gavashkar said.

Project Loon, a project between Google and ICTA was launched last year to provide 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed broadband connectivity to the country.

The project ran into controversy with regard to the landing of the balloon and the success of its preliminary tests.

“The first test was successful as the balloon travelled to Sri Lanka from the USA and its electronic components were functioning properly providing telecommunication transmission from the balloon to the ground station without an issue,” a top official of ICTA said. Media reports said the landing of the balloon at a location in Gampola at the last test looked similar to a ‘crash landing’ which raised many an eyebrow about the success of the test.

“Those who make adverse comments do not know the operation of the technology,” Gavashkar said.

Regarding the delay in resuming the next phase of the project, he said ICTA had to sort out the spectrum allocation and “now that we have solved the issue, the next test will be launched shortly. The project will operate on a 700 MW frequency.”

On the aspect of the weather, Gavashkar said there no issue with regard to the weather as the balloons hover on the stratosphere on an altitude of around 60,000 feet above sea level.

Telecommunication companies will be able to expand their Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage to the entire country through the Loon balloon infrastructure.

The floating transmitters will help take internet coverage which is now confined to main cities to rural areas, an ICTA official said.

The project has been hailed by information communication experts as an innovative move that will create more opportunities for Sri Lanka from Silicon Valley and provide equal high-speed LTE connectivity to the entire country.

IFS Sri Lanka President Jayantha de Silva said the country should not miss out on this great opportunity to boost connectivity and added that innovations of this nature should be supported.

It will benefit telecommunication service providers and help reduce the infrastructure investment cost. The government will take a 25 percent stake in the joint venture with Google. Sri Lanka is not investing capital, but will take the stake in return for allocating spectrum for the project.

Project Loon is a research and development project developed by Google X to provide internet access to rural and remote areas.

The project places balloons in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 18 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds. 

Comments

It take too time than expected. I think Google abandoned sri lanka from project loon. It's already happened.

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