Goa grabs Google, whispers 'come here, you Loon'

Indian state wants in on balloon broadband trials

The Indian state of Goa wants to attract Google to the region for its Project Loon balloon broadband trials.

The news comes as the Chocolate Factory gets close to agreement with Indian carrier BSNL about spectrum sharing.

India's national government has long shown an interest in Loon. In November 2015, the minister in charge of the country's IT ministry, DEITY, confirmed that he'd met with Google to discuss the project.

In February, DEITY followed up by asking Google to nominate local carrier partners. At the time, it also emerged that the government and Google were at odds over spectrum. Google is hoping to use 700 MHz spectrum for Loon, but that band is up for auction and the government wants the Chocolate Factory to use 2.5 GHz instead.

The delays at the national level could lie behind Goa's government stepping in. The Times of India reports that the state's IT director, Ameya Abhyankar, has held talks with Google to try and attract Loon and other services to his region.

“Since the discussions are on-going it would not be wise to comment but it is safe to say that there is a wider palette for discussion with Google and we should have something tangible in a few more weeks”, he told the outlet.

The Times of India also says Google has picked its preferred partner at the national level, and is in discussions with carrier BSNL to use its LTE spectrum for its mooted trials, which might resolve the impasse with the national government.

If trials are to go ahead, the report says DEITY will give Google the go-ahead for a four day trial either over Andhra Pradesh or Maharashtra. ®

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