Google's Project Loon Internet balloons edge closer through telcos deal

Google will work with telecommunications companies to make Project Loon a reality and bring Internet access to hard-to-reach areas of planet Earth.

Related: Google kicks off Project Loon Internet access scheme in New Zealand

Google’s “captain of moonshots” Astro Teller told TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference that it was originally hoping to acquire harmonised spectrum to make the project a reality and has now reneged on that plan in favour of working with telecommunications firms.

“We actually thought this was just going to be absolutely critical to the project,” Teller said. “And we wanted to get it done before we launched.”

He added that the team working on Project Loon had tried for six months to get a deal done related to the harmonised spectrum and has partnered with a range of large companies in order to try to get it off the ground.

The decision to buddy up with telcos came after Larry Page had reportedly told the team “you’re going to hit a double — that’s not really interesting. You are going to be really frustrated. You’ll be really angry for a week, but then you’ll get creative and you’ll come up with a home run.”

After this it developed the new plan that sees telcos able to lease the Loon balloons whilst they fly over countries thus allowing firms to offer access using the balloons. This, combined with the vast swathes of spectrum owned by telcos, means that citizens in certain countries will benefit from larger amounts of bandwidth than would otherwise be available.

Google’s Internet balloon project first appeared in the tabloids back in May 2013 when a report emerged in the Wall Street Journal and it is part of the company’s Google[x] lab that focuses on futuristic projects.

Related: Facebook releases more details on drone project: Will monopolistic telcos ground Zuckerberg?

It was first rolled out in New Zealand last June when 30 balloons were launched in Canterbury with 50 testers on the ground and it provides data speeds that are reportedly at the same level as 3G networks or slightly faster.

Image Credit: Flickr (The West Studio)