2016 is planned to be a big year for Google’s Project Loon, including its first round-the-world coverage.
According to Loon VP Mike Cassidy to the BBC, the team is hoping to launch over 300 balloons next year to “make a continuous string around the world.” The idea is that there’ll always be at least one balloon covering a particular area – when one drifts away, another’ll immediately take its place.
If the team successfully deploys its first continuous string over the Southern Hemisphere, it plans to start taking its first beta commercial customers. While this goal depends on how things go in the near future, Loon’s off to a promising start in Indonesia.
The team has joined forces with local providers Telkomsel, Indosat, and XL Axiata, giving them the power to transmit their signals to even far-off islands by bouncing them from one balloon to the next. According to the Google+ announcement, only one in three Indonesians have Internet access, but the initiative’s presence in the country might change that. Project Loon launched a similar test run in Sri Lanka this year, coming until March 2016.
Devices that connect to them can enjoy close to 4G speeds. The balloons are also easier to set up, taking only 15 minutes with a couple of people and a crane, compared to the hour or two it previously took with over a dozen workers. In addition, each balloon can now last for months instead of days.