Sri Lanka to be first country in the world with universal Internet access

July 29, 2015

(credit: Google)

Sri Lanka may soon become the first country in the world to have universal Internet access. On July 28, the government of Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Google to launch Project Loon, according to Sri Lanka Internet newspaper ColumboPage.

Google is providing high-altitude balloons, using the standard telco high-speed 4G LTE protocol, according to Project Loon project lead Mike Cassidy, in a video (below), “so anyone with a smart phone will be able to get Internet access. … “Since launching a handful of balloons in New Zealand at our Project launch in 2013 we’ve flown millions of test kilometers around the world trying to learn what it will take to provide connectivity to everyone, anywhere, with balloons.”

Project Loon began with a pilot test in June 2013, when 30 balloons were launched from New Zealand’s South Island and beamed Internet to a small group of pilot testers, Google notes. … “Looking ahead, Project Loon will continue to expand the pilot, with the goal of establishing a ring of uninterrupted connectivity at latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.”*

“In a few months we will truly be able to say: Sri Lanka covered,” said Sri Lanka Foreign, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

Long-time Sri Lanka resident and telecommunications pioneer Arthur C. Clarke would be proud.

* “Project Loon is just one way Google is looking to expand Internet coverage around the globe,” PC Magazine reports. “Last year, it bought satellite maker Skybox for $500 million to help improve its maps, but also Internet access and disaster relief. Earlier in the year, Google also bought Titan Aerospace, a company that makes solar-powered, near-orbital drones that can fly for about five years nonstop.”

Project Loon: Scaling Up