India keen on Google’s Internet balloon project

Hyderabad, June 26 (IANS) India has expressed interest in Internet search engine giant Google’s ‘Project Loon’, a network of balloons that enable worldwideweb access in remote areas.

An official of Google Inc said here Wednesday that India is among the countries interested in the balloon project, which is expected to ensure Internet access to areas not covered by the global network.

“A number of countries, including India, have expressed interest in implementing the project,” Todd Rowe, managing director of global channel sales at Google, told reporters.

He said the company was working on a pilot project in New Zealand. “Depending on the results of this pilot project, we will be able to implement it in other countries,” he said.

He said there was no time-frame to implement ‘Project Loon’ in India.

Google recently launched Internet-enabled balloons into the stratosphere over New Zealand to provide broadband connectivity to rural areas.

The helium-filled balloons floating 20 km above earth and carrying Internet signal antennas will provide connectivity by acting as a hub for users. The balloons are carried around by winds and can be steered by rising or lowering them to a particular altitude. They are being controlled by a specialised Loon Mission Control in New Zealand.

With this project, Google hopes to bridge the Internet divide across the globe, especially in countries like India, where Internet access is dismal. About two-thirds of the world’s population does not have Internet access.

On Google India’s premier Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Partner programme, Todd said the company was planning to expand it in south India in the light of growing demand for digital advertising from SMEs. Under the programme, Google is training SME partners in developing, launching and managing digital campaigns.

“Within 10 months of its launch, our partner programme model has gained significant momentum in India. Starting in September, we have partnered with 16 medium-sized companies with over 3,000 sales people who have been trained to help SMEs gain from digital advertising,” Todd said.

“In the next one year, we are looking to significantly increase our presence in south India by doubling our partner base and add another 3,000 sales force through these partners,” he added.

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