Fact: two-thirds of the world still doesn’t have internet access. But changing this demands extreme innovation.
Cue, Google and its Project Loon.
Because traditional ‘wired’ or fibre-optic cable access is not an option in remote or disaster-affected areas, Google is testing a network of solar-powered balloons that it hopes could provide reliable wireless broadband access at a fraction of the capex involved in laying cables. Each of the 30 balloons is flown 20 km above sea level. Their payloads shower internet on a ground area 40 km in diameter for three months. The balloons are flown up or down to catch the winds needed to straddle latitudes. The challenges include keeping them aloft for 100 days and navigating international airspace.
(This story appears in the 12 July, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)