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Govt Approves Project Loon Test for 4 days; Maharashtra & Andhra Pradesh Chosen for The Pilot

There has finally been some advancement in launching Project Loon in India, whose discussion has been going back-and-forth between Google and the Government for over a year now.
Google has got the clearance to test Project Loon in India, with the aim of providing internet to everyone using balloons up in the sky. Having hit some roadblocks this year, the project got delayed, but the Government has finally given the conditional nod to test out the technology for just 4 days in India, as a pilot.
The sites will be chosen in either Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh, to test out the technology in small rural areas of the country. Of course, the urban parts of the country will get the technology earlier because of better connectivity and infrastructure.
A top Government official said, “We are trying to test the effectiveness of Loon in the interiors of the country, since there is already ample connectivity in urban areas.” Discussions are going on between Google and National Informatics Centre(NIC) to identify the pilot locations.

Timeline of Project Loon in India

Back in February 2015, news broke out that Google is going to choose India as one of the partner countries to test Project Loon by 2016. India will join the ranks of US, Brazil, New Zealand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
At the end of 2015, before the actual implementation of Project Loon, Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, claimed that the frequencies at which the balloons operate would interfere with the telecommunications in India and pose a risk to the existing cellular networks.
Finally 2016 arrived and as promised, the Government approved Google’s plans to test Project Loon in the country. However, it was still under scrutiny of Department of Electronics and Information Technology(DeitY) to officially give a go ahead to the venture. The caveat was that local telcos will be involved in testing the technology.
Finally in March 2016, the Government agreed to test Loon with involvement of local players like BSNL to kickstart the pilot. Appropriate security clearances were also obtained for this service and a number of local players were approached by Google to make it happen.

Plan of Action for Google

Talks between Google’s Project Loon team and NIC are going to determine the exact locations of testing. The helium filled balloons will be sent up in the air in areas with minimal obstruction to civil aviation, keeping in mind air-traffic.
There will be optimization of time and location to ensure no other service sees any hindrance and the project is also completed successfully in four days. The time might be short for Google, but enough for the Government to see if the project can be tested in India, after all the roadblocks.
We hope the Government and telcos test the pilot with ease and not drive the tech giants away from innovating in India. So much delay could deter other tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft in launching similar services in India.

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