Alphabet's project Taara is beaming high-speed internet across the Congo River2021-09-16 18:00 by Daniela
Tags: Alphabet, Taara
Google's parent company, Alphabet, is still experimenting with hooking up remote towns to the Internet via frickin' laser beams. Today, Alphabet's moonshot "X Lab" shared an update on Project Taara, its experimental point-to-point optical communication system, often described as "fiber optics without the fiber." The company built a working installation in Africa and has been blasting a 20Gbps link about 5 km across the Congo River to a town of millions of people, lowering the cost of Internet access for them.
The idea for Taara started when the Loon team successfully used WOC to beam data between Loon balloons that were more than 100 kilometers apart. The team wanted to explore how the technology can be used on the ground. As part of the team's exploration on WOC's potential applications, they worked on bridging the connectivity gap between Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The two locations are separated by the Congo River and are only 4.8 kilometers apart. However, internet connectivity costs much, much more in Kinshasa, because providers will have to lay down enough fiber connection to cover 400 kilometers of ground around the river. What Project Taara did was install links that can beam high-speed connectivity from Brazzaville to Kinshasa across the river instead. Within 20 days and with 99.9 percent availability, the links served served nearly 700 TB of data.
Alphabet isn't the only company trying to tackle the question of how to bring internet to hard-to-reach areas. SpaceX's Starlink is using satellites, and Facebook has also made various investments in programs working on the problem.
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