Loon, an Alphabet-owned high-altitude balloon internet access provider, has teamed up with Internet para Todos (IpT), a mobile infrastructure firm that’s part owned by Telefonica and whose name translates to internet for everyone, to provide internet access to hard to reach places in Latin America, like the Amazon.
TechCrunch is reporting that the initiative is also supported by the Development Bank of Latin America as well as Facebook, and that the deal is specifically for the Amazon rainforest in Peru.
Service in the area will start next year, as long as all of the regulatory requirements are met and the government approves it. This would be the first time a commercial company has attempted to use the balloon internet technology over a sustained period of time, so there are a few issues to work out with regulators like the Peru Ministry of Transport and others, but everyone involved is working to make sure all the potential regulations are worked out.
Loon and Telefonica previously collaborated after a huge earthquake hit Peru in May, to provide internet service. Look also has deals with Telkom Kenya, which has yet to be finalized pending its own regulatory issues, and Telecast, a Canadian outfit. The Telecast deal involves coordinating a low-Earth orbit satellite technology.
The initiative will provide internet access to about 200,000 people in an area that makes up about 15 percent of the Loreto Region in Peru, the total of which equals about 142,000 square miles. The area covers about one-third of Peru’s territory, and it’s home to the Amazon River, one of the most important rivers in the world.
Out of those 200,000 people, about 25 percent have internet access of at least 3G quality, according to Loon.
The balloons act the same way that cell towers do, getting LTE connections and providing them for people’s phones on the ground.