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Google is gearing up to use light beams to bring internet connectivity to rural parts of the planet, after announcing a planned rollout in India.
Alphabet's X, the same company which was formerly known as Google X, is working with a telecom operator in Andhra Pradesh to use Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC). Just to be clear, FSOC is a technology that uses beams of light to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances. So it is kind of like fiber optic cable, but without the cable.
What's more interesting, since there's no cable, there's no time, cost, and hassle involved in digging trenches or stringing cable along poles.
FSOC boxes can simply be placed kilometers apart on roofs or towers, with the signal beamed directly between the boxes to easily traverse usual obstacles such as rivers, roads and railways.
People working for this initiative has previously worked for the Loon team and various connectivity-related technologies over the years. They have been closely working with AP State FiberNet, which is a telecom company based out of Andhra Pradesh. AP State FiberNet has already announced that they'll be rolling out two thousand FSOC links created by the team at X. The FSOC links will help form part of the high-bandwidth backbone of their network.
Andhra Pradesh is home to more than 53 million, not even 20% of residents currently have access to broadband connectivity. This is why the state government has committed to connecting 12 million households and thousands of government organizations and businesses by the year 2019.
Named as AP Fiber Grid, this initiative is aimed to plug "critical gaps to major access points, like cell-towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, that support thousands of people." It will kick off in 2018, with a small team of engineers and experts from X working in Andhra Pradesh to support the implementation.