Google Inc’s ambitious Project Loon, which aims to improve global internet access, is getting traction in almost all parts of the world, but not in India. Google is considering deploying Loon in the country, but it needs to clear some major regulatory hurdles first, based on comments from the top telecom government official in India.
Security reasons to blame for delay?
Google X project entered into deals in countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia for early testing of its internet balloons. Three telcos were involved in Indonesia deal that agreed to share their spectrum with Loon for delivering network coverage. However, in India, which has the second largest number of unconnected people, Loon may suffer a setback.
Google has expressed intentions of purchasing spectrum in the country for Loon, says a report from the Economic Times. “The proposed frequency band to be used in the Loon Project of Google is being used for cellular operations in India and it will lead to interference with cellular transmissions,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad – India’s minister of communication and IT.
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In other words, this means that India might not let Google fly its balloons. It is believed that security concerns are a major reason for governments pause on moving forward with Loon. The search giant is making use of a chain of balloons that will float in the stratosphere and beam internet to the developing and under developed parts of world with little or no access to internet.
Will Google CEO solve the issue?
Commenting on the minister’s claim, a Loon representative said the team met with Indian officials and tried to convince them that it is possible for them to operate with telco companies rather than obstruct them.
The representative noted that the Project Loon team had several positive meetings with Indian officials, and they are confident in addressing any queries that government officials might have regarding cellular interference. Moreover, they “are looking forward to working with them to conduct initial tests and validate our non-interference analysis.”
It will be interesting to see if Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who is traveling to India this week, is able to secure a deal in the U.S. firm’s favor. In October, the tech giant helped Indian railways become equipped with Wi-Fi technology.