by Staff Writers
Colombo (AFP) Feb 16, 2017
Google's venture to beam the internet to remote areas of the world via balloon has hit a legal snag in Sri Lanka that could see the project abandoned on the island, a minister said Thursday.
"Project Loon" uses roaming balloons to beam internet coverage and planned to connect Sri Lanka's 21 million people to the web, even those in remote connectivity black spots.
But just a year after testing began in Sri Lanka regulators have been unable to allocate Google a radio frequency for the airborne venture without breaching international regulations.
Communications minister Harin Fernando said the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was opposed to Google using the same frequency as Sri Lanka's public broadcasters to provide its internet.
"It boils down to a legal issue," Fernando told reporters in Colombo.
"The government as well as Google are lobbying the ITU, but if we fail there's a risk Google will go to another country that is not bound by these rules."
Google's giant helium-filled balloons act as floating mobile base stations, beaming high-speed internet to areas beyond the reach of ground-based telecommunication towers.
The first of three balloons -- which roam the stratosphere at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft -- entered Sri Lankan air space a year ago after being going airborne in South America.
The government and Google planned a joint venture where Colombo would receive a 25 percent stake, without any capital investment, for sharing its cellular spectrum with the project.
One of the balloons was found in a Sri Lankan tea plantation after its maiden test flight last year, although authorities described it as a controlled landing.
About one-third of Sri Lankans have regular access to the internet, a figure expected to swell through the Loon project.
Sri Lanka was the first country in South Asia to introduce mobile phones in 1989, and also the regional frontrunner when it unveiled a 4G network three years ago.
Aerospace News at SpaceMart.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|