This article was authored by Dylan Bushell-Embling, and was originally posted on telecomasia.net.
Indonesia's three largest mobile operators - Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata - will test providing balloon-powered internet services as part of Google's Project Loon.
Announcing the arrangement, Google Asia Pacific said the three operators will evaluate using the technology as part of efforts to connect more Indonesians to the internet, thereby stimulating the nation's digital economy.
Currently only around one in three Indonesians are connected to the internet, and connections are often “painfully slow,” the company said.
Project Loon envisions providing internet services via high-altitude balloons that act like floating mobile towers. The balloons would float in stratospheric winds at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, beaming internet connections to the ground.
The balloons would be strategically placed in predictable slipstreams to ensure that as soon as one balloon floats away from a service area another takes its place.
Google said the technology has the potential to overcome the difficulties of deploying infrastructure in geographically-challenging regions such as Indonesia, which has more than 17,000 islands of jungles and mountains.
Google first announced plans for its Project Loon in June 2013, when it launched a pilot test in New Zealand.