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Google’s Project Loon trials in Sri Lanka

Google’s air-balloons have reached Sri Lanka to connect islanders in remote areas

Google’s Project Loon trials in Sri Lanka
One of three balloons from Google's Project Loon has drifted into Sri Lankan airspace after being launched from South America

Google's Project Loon, a helium-filled balloon powering high-speed Internet service, has begun trials in Sri Lanka.

The first of three balloons drifted into Sri Lankan airspace, after being released from South America, revealed the government's information and communications technology chief, Muhunthan Canegey.

The balloons are a solar-powered, airborne cell towers, which once in the stratosphere, will float twice as high as commercial airliners and have a lifespan of 180 days.

Each balloon works by drawing connectivity from ground stations and passing it on balloon-to-balloon, please are then able to connect to the balloon using a phone or 4G/LTE-capable device.  

Canegey announced Google is expected to begin testing flight controls, spectrum efficiency and any other technical issues this week.

Sri Lanka's government announced it will have a 25% stake in a joint venture with Google, in return for allocating spectrum for the project. There are no plans to invest any capital, but a further 10% of the joint venture would be offered to existing telephone service providers on the island.

The project aims to boost coverage on the island, lower rates for data services, and increase competition.

Sri Lanka, an Island nation of 20.5m people and official figures show there are 3.3m mobile Internet users and 630,000 fixed line Internet subscribers.

Google's Project Loon aims to connect remote regions around the world and has already trialled in outback Australia and Indonesia.

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