I did not see this coming. Google will deploy 13 balloons over Sri Lanka to bring W-Fi to the entire country at one stroke (see: Google’s Internet balloons will soon connect all of Sri Lanka with Wi-Fi). Below is an excerpt from the article:
Google has teamed up with the Sri Lankan government to deliver broadband Internet to every region of the island nation, making it the first country in the world to have universal Internet coverage. The initiative is part of Google’s Project Loon, which aims to provide cheap or free Wi-Fi to people in remote rural areas around the world via a fleet of huge helium-filled balloons floating way up in the stratosphere. Right now, of the 22 million mobile phones being used in Sri Lanka, 2.8 million of them are connected to the Internet, so if the initiative goes ahead, it could change a whole lot of lives....
Right now, the plan is to have everything up and running by early next year, with 13 balloons to be launched in March. They will be floating twice as high as passenger planes - about 19 kilometres up - and receiving Wi-Fi signals from grounded stations below. The balloons will bounce these signals along to each other, and every time a balloon receives a signal, it will transmit it to an area of about 40 km in diameter below, allowing people to directly connect to the 3G network using their smartphones and other devices. Unfortunately, the balloons can’t stay up there forever - Google plans to replace them every 100 days or so....In order to keep their operational costs down, local Internet service providers will have access to them. Service providers will enter into agreements with 'floating cell towers' that will be shared bringing down transmission costs leading to further reductions in cost of service provision,"....
This is amazing! The story has yet to be told in the most comprehensive way about how cheap smart phones and access to the Internet can change the lives for people living in developing countries (see: Emerging Nations Embrace Internet, Mobile Technology). Here's a quote from this article:
People around the world are using their cell phones for a variety of purposes, especially for texting and taking pictures, while smaller numbers also use their phones to get political, consumer and health information. Mobile technology is also changing economic life in parts of Africa, where many are using cell phones to make or receive payments.
Mobile technology and Internet access have become critical needs for developing countries -- not just a luxury. Here is a brief description supporting this statement (see: How The Future of Mobile Lies in the Developing World):
For those in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to imagine that 70 percent of all handset shipments are feature phones. Most of these phones go to developing countries.... For many communities, simple voice and text connections have brought about revolutions in access to financial, health, agricultural and education services and opportunities for employment. For example, many farmers in rural areas in Africa and Asia use SMS services to to find out the daily prices of prices of agricultural commodities. This information allows them to improve their bargaining position when taking their goods to market, and also allows them to switch between end markets.