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Feb 19, 2017

Google makes a breakthrough in Loon just after SL drops project

Within two days of Government’s announcement of abandoning the Google Loon Pilot Project initiated almost two years ago in Sri Lanka, Google parent company Alphabet's "moonshots" division has made a breakthrough in beaming the internet down from hot air balloons.

Project Loon has been under way since 2013, with its team mostly developing the project in secret and occasionally running unannounced tests. Now, Loon says it has had a breakthrough that could bring that to fruition sooner than initially expected.

Google Loon Project which was aimed at increasing the country’s internet penetration has to be abandoned following the refusal of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to allocate the required spectrum.

Sri Lanka, a member country of the ITU has to adhere to regulations for the allocation of 700MHz spectrum for high altitudes such as used in Google loon project as it may interfere with telco, TV and other signals operating in relatively low altitudes.

Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), having sought clarification from the ITU , has already informed that the required spectrum cannot be allocated for the proposed pilot project testing of Google Loon , Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando told a media conference in Colombo on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), having sought clarification from the ITU, has already informed that the required spectrum cannot be allocated for the proposed pilot project testing of Google Loon.

Within 48 hours of this announcement, Loon engineer Sal Candido disclosed that they have invented new cost effective system of using cluster of balloons changing the original plan called for some 200 to 300 balloons to traverse the globe, beaming down internet as they floated along.

But by improving the company's artificial intelligence software, Loon engineers have found a way to keep the balloons bundled within certain areas. This will allow the company to use far fewer balloons, making the project less expensive.

Specifically, the Loon team made changes to the software that controls the balloons' altitude and navigation.

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