Economy, Sci & Tech

Alphabet to Expand Web Access

Alphabet to Expand Web AccessAlphabet to Expand Web Access

Alphabet Inc, the new holding company for Google, has teamed up with three Indonesian telecommunications companies to expand Internet access in that country using solar-powered balloons.

Alphabet officials, including co-founder Sergey Brin, and representatives from Indonesian companies Telkomsel, XL Axiata Tbk PT and Indosat Tbk PT signed an agreement Wednesday to bring the so-called Project Loon to the nation of 250 million people, Reuters reported.

The project sends solar-powered balloons 5,000 meters into the air to deliver Internet access through radio frequency signals to antennae connected to buildings on the ground. The balloons use algorithms to find the best winds to carry them along their charted course.

Project Loon is part of Alphabet's secretive X division, where the company experiments with far-off technologies dubbed "moonshots" such as its self-driving car technology.

Alphabet and its partners will deploy hundreds of balloons in 2016 over the country of more than 17,000 islands in an effort to determine where gaps in service lie as part of the tests before full-scale service is launched.

The US tech company has already tested the project in Brazil, New Zealand and Australia but with only a single carrier.

Project Loon Vice President Mike Cassidy said the Indonesian partnership marks the first time it will send signals from multiple telecommunications companies through a single balloon, and that it will be the service's largest deployment to date and could eventually reach 100 million users.