From Balloons to Light Beams, Google’s Next Plan To Deliver Internet in Africa

Google-project taara
Image courtesy Google

Google’s Alphabet X Innovation Lab announced that it is developing technology to deliver high-speed internet access to remote regions in Africa. The enterprise, dubbed Project Taara, will employ invisible light beams connected to tall towers to bring low-cost internet access to sub-Saharan Africa. Like Google Loons, this project will begin testing in Kenya.

Using light beams allows connectivity within regions that aren’t geographically ideal for traditional fibre cables. The Taara Group says a single 20 Gbps links can carry signals up to 19 kilometres and provide sufficient connectivity for thousands of residents.

Project Taara posted a blog earlier this week saying, “By creating a series of links from our partner’s fibre optic network over the ground to underserved areas, Taara’s links can relay high speed, high-quality internet to people without the time, cost and hassle involved in digging trenches or stringing cables along poles.”

To ensure continuous Internet connectivity, Google alongside its parent company Alphabet will have the links placed on top of tall towers or rooftops. This method is meant to ensure security for the towers as well as making sure that the networks retain unbroken lines of sight.

Alphabet has also partnered with Econet Group and Liquid Telecom to bring internet service to communities that have been left behind digitally.

Project Taara follows Project Loon that was launched in 2013 by Google X and established last year in Kenya after receiving approval from the government.

For Project Loon, Google flew altitude balloons up to 26 kilometres into the stratosphere to establish a wireless network that is free from physical obstacles that you would find on land.

With Taara, the goal was to bring internet service with speeds of up to 1Mbps to remote and poor regions affected by natural disasters.

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