Project Loon ready for Sri Lanka test

Government in spectrum-for-cash deal to assess viability, tolerance for HappyHype!

Weeks after being released in South America, Alphabet's Project X windbag-broadband balloons have reached their Sri Lanka test area.

Last year, Google's parent company and Sri Lanka's minister for foreign affairs, telecommunications and IT Mangala Samaraweera promised that the country's first trial of Project Loon would happen ahead of the 2016 monsoon.

With the formal launch of the project due in March, the tests began on Monday. An Agence France-Presse report carried by The Guardian says the government's information and communications technology Muhunthan Canagey department CEO announced the first of three Loons entered Sri Lankan airspace on Monday.

A Project Loon team is now on the way to the country to test “flight controls, efficiency and other matters”.

Sri Lanka is exchanging the spectrum Loon needs to operate for a 25 per cent stake in the local project.

In yet-another TED stump-speech, Project X chief loon Astro Teller said the balloon broadband system is also on track for trials in Indonesia later this year.

In the speech, Teller offered a vision to compete with Dante's Inferno, promising a world in which Project Loon balloons will one day live-stream TED talks to the whole world: “Our early tests were barely a megabit per second, but now we can deliver up to 15 Mbps, enough to watch a TED talk,” he said.

More importantly to Sri Lanka, a successful deployment would vastly improve local telcos' reach into rural areas during the Monsoon, when flooding routinely cuts roads. ®

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