Andhra Pradesh, Google X ink MoU to bring FSOC technology to India

Alphabet, Indian state partner to deploy new wireless internet tech

The X division of Google's parent company Alphabet that deals in experimental technologies, has entered into an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh government for bringing high-speed internet to parts of Andhra Pradesh using special boxes that beam light.

X, the "moonshot factory" of the tech giant, is using Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) to connect far-flung regions of the state.

For Indians to use Google's services, however, they need access to the internet. "Such inclusion significantly reduces the digital divide and promotes economic prosperity and enhances the happiness index of our people".

To support the initial roll-out, X will have some engineers based in Andhra Pradesh as the deployment gets off the ground, the post said.

The idea for initiative came after Google X used FSOC to deliver information for its Loon connectivity project which uses hot air balloons to deliver internet connectivity in remote areas. Alphabet's X will also set up a local office with the help of the Government of Andhra Pradesh in order to provide real time support for smooth operation of the project, the government said in a statement.

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Baris Erkmen, who is leading the effort inside X, said his team is "piloting a new approach" to overcome the challenges, but he did not specify the software and hardware advancements.

Over the past few months, X has been working closely with AP State FiberNet to test that the FSOC links would be suitable for the AP Fiber Grid initiative. FSOC will also help in providing high bandwidth to telecom towers (presently on low data rate microwave links) enabling to upgrade from 2G to 3G/4G services.

Balloons positioned high in the sky proved an effective way of transporting data large distances, using an optical communication technology called Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) to deliver high-speed connectivity through beams of light.

Less than 20% of the 53 million people in Andhra Pradesh now have access to broadband connectivity. If the implementation of this project in the state of Andhra Pradesh is successful, FSOC can be taken forward to provide network connection to the remotest reaches of the world. By 2019, the state is planning to add another 12 million households. And that is what its latest tie-up with Andhra Pradesh is all about.

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