Google's plans to beam the Internet from giant balloons sent to the
stratosphere could boost small businesses in rural parts of Asia by
connecting them online, the company said Wednesday.
Google's head of Asia Pacific, said in a speech at the Communicasia
conference in Singapore, that the Internet balloons might also
facilitate communication during disasters.
Google last week
revealed top secret plans to launch thousands of balloons to provide
Internet connections to remote parts of the world, allowing the more
than four billion people with no access to get online.
scientists on Saturday released up to 30 helium-filled test balloons
flying 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) above Christchurch in New Zealand,
carrying antennae linked to ground base stations.
devastating is that only a tiny fraction of SMEs (small-medium
enterprises) all across Asia are online right now," Temsamani told the
He said India, one of the region's emerging economies, has 47 million small businesses, but only one percent are online.
"Getting more businesses online is crucial to every single country in the region," he said.
experimental balloon project, called Project Loon, is one way to
provide affordable Internet access to "rural, remote and under-served"
regions, Temsamani said.
"For farmers in remote rural areas, this
would bring market information that allows them to get better prices
from merchants," he added.
The balloons, which once in the
stratosphere will be twice as high as commercial airliners and barely
visible to the naked eye, will also help in disasters when communication
infrastructure is down, Temsamani said.
"For places with few
doctors, this could help relay drug information. In disasters, this
could help coordinate supplies," he said.
The balloon network is
controlled by ground stations connecting to the local Internet
infrastructure and beaming signals to the balloons, which are
self-powered by solar panels.
Users below have an Internet
antennae they attach the side of their house which can send and receive
data signals from the balloons passing overhead.
Some 50 people were chosen to take part in the trial in New Zealand and were able to link to the Internet.
cautioned that the project remained in an experimental stage, and would
require a lot of work from participating nations.
"These balloons need networks' co-operation to function, we're all going to have to work together on this," he said.
said Google expects half a billion people in emerging markets
worldwide, most of them in Asia, to have Internet access "between now
"These people will drive this transformation even
faster. They will not have all the desktop-based habits we've developed
over the past 10 years," he added.
(Also see: Project Loon: 7 things to know about Google's Internet-beaming balloons)