Google, Telstra Testing Balloon-Based Internet Access

Google has partnered with Telstra to test a balloon-based Internet access service in Australia.  

Google will supply the balloon platform, while Telstra supplies the spectrum. In the trial, 20 balloons will be launched in western Queensland, aiming to deliver  Internet services to consumers in remote areas of Australia.
The Project Loon balloons feature antennas that can broadcast fourth generation Long Term Evolution mobile services, which allow the balloons to provide as much as 42 Mbps to a ground antenna and 15 Mbps to a handset.

Separately, Facebook’s Internet.org initiative appears on the brink of becoming an ISP serving Africa, according to the Telegraph.

As rumored, Internet.org could contrat with U.K.-headquartered satellite provider Avanti, which owns two broadband satellites positioned over Africa, plans to launch two more in the next three years to increase capacity and coverage.

Zuckerberg reportedly tried to entice mobile service providers to do so, but was rebuffed.

Telstra, apparently, does that think that a wise approach.

And there lies a conundrum often faced by incumbent service providers, namely whether to cooperate, or not, with a potential competitor.

Facebook has been open to partnerships with ISPs. But as with Google, Facebook does not appear to be willing to let partner opposition deter it from extending Internet access as widely as possible, as quickly as possible.

Facebook also has been looking at use of unmanned aircraft as a potential Internet access platform.
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