Google to deliver wifi from Helium balloons

Google to deliver wifi from Helium balloons
Sri Lanka supports Google's balloon adventure and wants to send free wifi signals from the air.

The government of Sri Lanka declared Monday that it will have a 25 percent interest in a partnership with Google to deliver high-speed internet from Helium balloons.

Tests begin already this month

Minister for telecommunications, Harin Fernando, says Google will deliver the large Helium balloons, and other equipment needed to carry out tests over the nation.

- The tests begin later this month at Ratmalana (a suburb of the capital Colombo). They are expected to last up to a year, said Fernando to reporters.

- The government has financed 25 percent of a joint company that will operate the system, he added.

The minister says most Internet service providers on the island are fans of Google's "Project Loon". This will help to increase their coverage and provide cheaper rates for data services.

- Our goal is to provide coverage to the whole island, said Fernando, and added:

- Increased competition also decreases the prices.

Service Providers will have access to higher speed, and the ability to increase the quality of existing services as soon as the balloons go up in the air.

The balloons will be twice as large as commercial aircraft, but barely visible to the naked eye. The balloons will be in operation about 180 days each but can be recycled, says Fernando. He visited Google's test factory in Silicon Valley.

Official figures show that there are 3.3 million mobile internet connections and 630,000 fixed line subscribers among Sri Lanka's 20 million inhabitants.

Sri Lanka was the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989 and the first who created its own 3G network in 2004. It was also the first country in the region which unveiled 4G two years ago.

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