Project Loon’s next test location might be India, according to Alphabet and the Indian government. It follows an announcement last week that three major carriers in Indonesia would test Alphabet’s Internet balloon program next year.
Alphabet, the holding company responsible for Google and Nest Labs, has been testing the balloons for over a year. In that time, it has improved accuracy, time spent in the air, and Internet range. The company now believes it is in a position to offer the balloons as an alternative to traditional networking.
“We had a meeting with Google,” said Ajay Kumar, India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology secretary. “The matter is under consideration.” A spokesperson for Google’s affairs in Asia-Pacific also confirmed the talks happened, but said the company didn’t have anything to announce.
The technology is impressing a lot of organizations across Asia, who may be finding it hard to connect users to the Internet. India has one of the lowest Internet adoption rates, with only 17 percent of the 1.2 billion people in the country having regular access to the Internet according to the World Bank.
Part of the reason for India’s slow adoption is lack of networking infrastructure, causing high rates for broadband and mobile data. Project Loon could help in that regard by beaming large quantities of satellite data to mobile devices at a relatively low cost.
Alphabet is not the only company looking to capture the Asian market with low-cost wireless alternatives. Facebook has plans to launch solar drones across the Asian continent, which will beam down Internet at a lower cost. SpaceX announced a plan to launch a constellation of low-orbit satellites, funded in part by Google’s $1 billion investment.
The goal is to grow Internet adoption rates in the region, likely to become the biggest focus region for Facebook and Google due the sheer number of people. SpaceX will most likely rent the satellites to Google or another Internet company to fund rocket projects.