Google has “almost perfected” its Loon balloon technology, with the first deal with operators set to be announced “hopefully very soon”, Wael Fakharany, regional business lead for Google [x], revealed this morning in Cape Town, South Africa.
“For the last two years we have almost perfected the technology, it’s time for us now to scale in this part of the world,” he said in a session discussing rural broadband coverage.
When quizzed about the attitude of operators to the project, Fakharany said that “the response has been very positive, because we work very closely with operators and take on operators as our strategic partners”.
“The operators control the distribution, marketing, OSS, BSS, CRM – the customer relationship is with the telcos. We are just the infrastructure provider,” he said. “There is a viable commercial business model and is based on skin-in-the-game, sharing costs and revenue with operators for completely untouched potential.”
According to the executive, once the first deal with an operator is in place, others are likely to follow – but it needs someone to take the first step.
Loon is an ambitious project that attempts to use helium-filled balloons to provide internet connectivity, and has so far been tested by operators such as Telefonica, Telstra and Vodafone.
With regard to the status of the project, Fakharany said the focus for the near future is about bringing it to scale, and not just in the Southern Hemisphere, where its initial tests have taken place.
Google is also pushing ahead with high altitude internet drones and then internet satellites to achieve complete global internet coverage.
Deep within Google, the company is working on two new drone concepts as part of something called Project Titan that, it says, will be used for internet access and surveying, rather than delivery.
The Google sources also said that, aside from internet connectivity, the drones will also be engaged in data harvesting, particularly in relation to the deforestation of the planet.