Networking

Alphabet's X partners with Indian telecom to bring high-speed wireless to millions

Using a new technique called FSOC, the firm could improve connectivity in rural and remote areas of Andhra Pradesh.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Alphabet's X is piloting new Free Space Optical Communications wireless in India that is easy to deploy and could improve connectivity for many residents.
  • The FSOC technology was developed as an offshoot of Project Loon, which beams cell service down to Earth from specialized balloons.

X, the research division of Google's parent company Alphabet, has developed a new high-speed wireless technology that could make it easier to connect millions of residents in rural areas. X will be partnering with Indian telecom AP State FiberNet to pilot the technology in Andhra Pradesh, the firm announced in a blog post.

While there are currently more than 53 million people in Andhra Pradesh, the eighth-largest state in India, fewer than 20% have broadband access, the post said. The new wireless technology, dubbed Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC), could offer an easy-to-deploy option to quickly connect more residents as part of the state's AP Fiber Grid initiative that aims to get 12 million homes and thousands of businesses connected by the year 2019.

SEE: Wireless networking policy (Tech Pro Research)

Much like fiber optic cable, FSOC relies on beams of light to provide connectivity. The technology was developed as part of the Project Loon program, which uses specialized balloons to deliver cell service from high above the Earth, the post said.

Being that FSOC boxes are wireless, they don't require the intensive construction associated with fiber deployments. This means they're much cheaper and faster to put up, and can be placed up to 20 kilometers apart and still get the signal out, according to Reuters.

As part of the partnership, AP State FiberNet will roll out 2,000 FSOC boxes to improve connectivity.

"These FSOC links will form part of the high-bandwidth backbone of their network, giving them a cost effective way to connect rural and remote areas across the state," according to the Alphabet post. "The links will plug critical gaps to major access points, like cell-towers and WiFi hotspots, that support thousands of people."

The benefits for consumers are fairly clear, but FSOC could also provide much-needed infrastructure for remote workers in the area, small businesses, and entrepreneurs who need the connectivity and bandwidth to grow their businesses.

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.

Also see

smartphone user in India

A man takes a photo with his smartphone during the Desert Festival in Rajasthan.

iStockphoto/Radiokukka

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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