Google has launched Project Link, a fibre network access project for developing countries that has already begun in Uganda’s capital Kampala.
Google’s Loon balloon-powered connectivity project launched earlier
this year with ambitions to deliver better internet access to
poorly-connected parts of the world.
On Wednesday, Google revealed a more direct plan, Project Link, to
deliver higher-speed broadband to locations that don’t have the
infrastructure to deliver stable internet connections.
With Project Link, Google has laid a fibre broadband network in
Uganda’s capital. Kampala, a city of three million people, relies on
connectivity that “often sputters on pre-broadband speeds or unreliable
connections”, Kai Wulff, an access field director for the project, wrote
on Google’s Africa blog.
“Project Link is about unleashing what’s possible when cities like
Kampala are better connected. Solutions with virtually unlimited
capacity are prepared for the future and ensure we can work with local
providers to build a stronger web everywhere, including Africa,” Google
wrote on the Project Link page.
There’s no indication from Google which city it will launch Link
services in next. Unlike Google Fibre in the US, where the company sells
broadband access to end-users, Project Link’s fibre network is aimed
offering higher-speed wholesale access to local mobile operators or ISPs
who, according to Wulff, can then create their own product lines.
“It enables local providers to offer new mobile data plans or
high-speed internet for office buildings and universities, and support
newer technologies as they come to market,” Wulff noted.
Uganda mobile providers include Orange, UTL and MTN, which has
already launched an LTE network in Kampala with theoretical maximum
download speeds up to 100Mbps.
The network fills a blackspot in the city’s internet supply chain,
according to Wulff. “Some parts of the chain are already strong:
undersea cables are bringing data to Africa’s shores and mobile
providers are expanding services across the continent. We’ve now built
quality infrastructure in between these points to deliver the speed and
capacity that supports the latest and greatest of the web.”
Unlike Project Link, Project Loon is a more experimental play —
announced in June, Loon is a Google X Lab ‘moonshot’ scheme that
launched 30 radio-equipped air balloons over New Zealand with the aim of
delivering 3G-like speeds.