Saturday, February 14, 2015

Internet for All

When we talk about the world going digital and every one having internet access, we often either forget or may ignore the fact that still only about 40% of world’s population has access to Internet. It is estimated that as of now about 3 billion people in the world have internet access.
The internet access has been a major concern especially in developing and under developed countries across the globe. While this may sound like a challenge especially for governments of different countries to ensure everyone in their countries have access to the internet, this is also a huge untapped opportunity to grow for all those companies who rely on Internet. All the internet, mobile and digital marketing companies are making efforts in different ways to ensure larger part of world population has internet access. Internet giant Google seems to be one step ahead with their Project Loon.
Project Loon is an internet project from Google that utilizes high-altitude balloons to offer affordable internet access around the globe to around 5 billion people without any access. These balloons have the capability to travel approximately 12 miles above the earth’s surface, in the stratosphere.  Loon uses software algorithms to determine where the balloon needs to go depending on the direction of the wind. It started as a pilot project about two years back when 30 balloons were launched from New Zealand's South Island that beamed internet to a small group of users.
To learn more about Project Loon and how it works, visit the following YouTube Link

 In November 2014, Google announced that it has made tremendous improvements with this project especially with the auto fill equipment that would allow the balloons to last up to 10 times longer in the stratosphere than they did in 2013. The overall capability to launch has also increased up to 20 balloons per day.
According to a recent Times of India report, Google is in talks with the Indian Government to introduce its Project Loon to rural and remote areas of the country. Still more than half of the Indian population lives in rural areas and most of them living in villages do not have access to Internet. India has third largest number of internet users in the world only behind China and the USA. The internet user growth in India has been tremendous in the last year and it is set to surpass the United States before June 2015. Indian government elected in May 2014 has increased the budget for digitization across the country. With the rapid Internet growth in India, this Project Loon seems to be all set to be successful at least in India. According to the VP of business innovation at Google X, the plan is to launch a commercial version by 2016 covering all the parts of the world. Google X is already in touch with the governments and telecom operators of various countries including India.

I am eagerly waiting for the commercial launch of Project Loon sometime next year as it seems to be having a huge potential. It would also get sufficient support from all governments considering it is relatively inexpensive and environment friendly too.
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