Worldwide internet traffic is expected to increase by 24% each year. Fiber-optic cable can accommodate this increase in demand, but deploying a large fiber network may be challenging. Planning and constructing trenches to install lines may be time-consuming and expensive, and difficult terrain can make expansion virtually impossible. Because it’s difficult to install fiber in certain areas, the nations with the best network and those with the least have a large gap in mobile internet speeds.
During the development of Project Loon, a possible solution to this issue emerged. The Loon team wanted to devise a method for establishing a data connection among balloons that were more than 100 kilometers away. The researchers looked at establishing high-throughput connections between balloons using wireless optical communication technologies. Wireless optical communication, like fiber but without wires, utilizes light to transfer high-speed data between two locations. Project Loon, a project investigating the use of stratospheric helium balloons that deliver wireless internet, was shut down by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, in January. However, parts of the Loon project’s technology continued in development, particularly the Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) connections that were initially intended to connect the high-flying balloons — and now that technology is in use delivering a high-speed internet link for individuals in Africa.
Taara utilizes light to transport information at extremely high rates through the air as a far more thin, invisible beam, similar to fiber but without the wires. FSOC can establish a 20Gbps+ internet connection between two locations with a seamless connection, similar to fiber-optic lines without the cable, and Alphabet’s moonshot lab X has established Project Taara that would give it a whirl. They began by establishing connections in India and Kenya a few years ago, and today X announced what it has accomplished by utilizing their wireless optical connection to link service over the Congo River between Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Providing disconnected people with high-speed, broadband Internet access
Taara’s technology has been tested throughout Africa and India. Taara connections are a low-cost, quick-to-deploy solution for bringing high-speed internet to distant regions. Taara connections can assist thousands of individuals to get access to the web’s educational, economic, and communication advantages by filling crucial gaps between major access points like mobile towers and Wi-Fi hotspots.
According to Project Taara’s head, Baris Erkmen, the link carried over 700TB of data in 20 days, supplementing fiber lines used by local Telco Econet as well as its affiliates. The researchers chose this site not just because of the temperature, which they acknowledge is more appropriate for wireless optical connectivity than just a foggy metropolis like San Francisco, but also because of the challenge posed by wide & fast-flowing river. Although the towns are just a few kilometers apart because the crow flies, Taara claims that a fiber connection to Kinshasa would have to travel almost 250 miles (400 kilometers), making access to the internet five times more costly.
Advantages of Alphabet’s project “Taara” –
- Adaptable Technology – Wireless optical communication technology could transfer data at high rates of up to 20 Gbps with a clear line of sight. A single connection may be utilized to expand fiber networks across lengths of up to 20 kilometers.
- Long-Range – Line-of-sight data transmissions with a range of 20 kilometers or more.
- High-Speed – Data speeds of 10 to 100 gigabits per second are supported via high-throughput.
- Cross-Terrain Connectivity – The method works well in locations where fiber lines are difficult to connect. Sites near woods, aquatic bodies, railway lines, or property with expensive real estate costs are examples.
- Simple to implement – To operate smoothly with current infrastructure and settings, it is built on open standards.
The Taara team is currently concentrating on providing 20+ Gbps connection across lengths of 20+ kilometers between terminals, as well as making the units quick and simple to install for partners. The team is in talks with telecommunications companies, internet service providers, and governments all over the world about the possibility for wireless optical communications technologies to substantially speed up the deployment of the large-scale, high-throughput networks required for supporting the web’s future.
Project Taara connections are naturally high up since they need to see one another, and so as we can see, they can automatically adjust their reflectors to link “a beam of light that is almost equivalent to the diameter of a chopstick” precisely enough to strike a 5-centimeter object that is 10 kilometers away.” The device could readjust itself after a +/-5 degree cone, but if any kind of failure occurs for some reason, the team claims that they may try to remote direct devices together into the connection without dispatching personnel.