The government of Andhra Pradesh has entered into an agreement with the moonshot factory of Alphabet (earlier Google) – X – to bring the breakthrough Free Space Optical Communication (FSOC) technology in order to provide internet through the government Fibergrid project.
The agreement was signed by Nara Lokesh, minister of IT, Government of Andhra Pradesh during his visit to Mountain View headquarters of Alphabet.
“This association with X labs to implement FSOC in AP is first of its kind in the world to provide wireless internet connection at a higher speed of up to 20Gbps and to a distance of up to 20kms. This significant partnership will offer a major boost to the state’s digital infrastructure and help overcome hindrances in terms of connecting isolated and difficult terrain, forest areas, river crossings, railway crossings etc.”
Less than 20% of the 53 million people in Andhra Pradesh currently have access to broadband connectivity. In order to bridge this gap, the state government and telecom service provider AP State FiberNet have been working on an initiative called AP Fiber Grid to connect 12 million households and thousands of businesses by 2019.
The X Labs will initially supply the AP government with two thousand FSOC links and the X engineers and experts on site in AP will work with the government personnel to identify and select suitable sites for deployment of the FSOC links. 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.
“We are delighted to be partnering with AP FiberNet on this promising innovation that could overcome some of the longstanding challenges of getting high speed internet too hard to reach areas, and looking forward to helping them make the benefits of the web accessible to more people in Andhra Pradesh,” said AstroTeller CEO of Alphabet X.
The technology was originally used by the Project Loon team to beam data between balloons, but it can also be used closer to earth. FSOC links deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances using beams of light which is similar to how data is transmitted through fiber optic cables using light, but unlike traditional fiber, one doesn’t need to dig trenches or string cable along the poles.