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Uttarakhand's Balloon-based Internet to Connect remote Villages with Free Wi-Fi

Jun 11, 2018

Uttarakhand's Balloon-based Internet to Connect remote Villages with Free Wi-Fi
Uttarakhand's Balloon-based Internet to Connect remote Villages with Free Wi-Fi | Credit: Tabletowo

Highlights:

  • Floating balloons beaming internet will soon be providing free Wi-Fi to remote villages in Uttrakhand.
  • The hill state, Uttrakhand, will use tethered aerostats to provide internet services to rural areas.
  • Following a similar launch at IT Park in Dehradun, aerostat internet access has been launched on Friday on pilot basis, by Trivendra Singh Rawat, chief minister of the state.

Internet-beaming large balloons will soon be providing free Wi-Fi access to remote villages in Uttrakhand. The hill state will use tethered aerostats to provide internet access to the villagers in remote areas.

The first such aerostat has been used on a pilot basis by the IT Park in Dehradun by the Chief Minister of the state – Trivendra Singh Rawat on Friday.

The balloon is kept afloat with the aerostat by using Hydrogen, additionally the balloon comprises of surveillance cameras, a base transceiver antenna to do calls and a Wi-Fi modem to transmit internet. The 6-metre-long aerostat can stay afloat in the air for a fortnight, according to director of state’s Information Technology Development Agency(ITDA), Amit Sinha. IIT Mumbai provided the aerostat technology.

Amit Sinha, the ITDA director told media that each of the aerostat, which amounts Rs 50 lakh to put up, can transmit internet within a distance of 7.5 kilometre with an average download speed of 5 Mbps.

“Anyone in the perimeter will be able to connect to the Wi-Fi which will be free initially. The login to the network has no password set, making it easier for anybody to access the network,” he said.

Aerostat balloon technology is a celestial platform in which the balloon is raised high in the sky. The balloon is held to the surface with the help of various mechanisms and several ropes. It remains in the atmosphere for a long time without fuel. The minimum vibration of the balloon helps it to be used for communication, climate monitoring, aerial monitoring and other such works. The balloon can also be moved around various locations, by connecting it to a vehicle’s top and taken from one to place to another as required. This also requires minimal logistical efforts as the benefits outweigh the efforts put in. The media and public have been warm to the new initiative by the government and have warmed to the idea of free Wi-Fi accessibility in remote areas.

According to estimates by some experts, 690 of 16,870 villages in the state of Himalayas, lack internet or mobile connectivity. At the launch of aerostat, the state’s chief minister Mr Rawat said that the technology would be used vastly in remote areas that are connected to the internet.

Citing Ghes village in Gharwal as an example where ITDA recently put up solar-powered Wi-Fi internet, the chief minister said that his government in Uttarakhand was committed to bring remote villages on the digital map.

“We developed remote village of Ghes into a village of digital access and everyone is happy with the effort,” added Mr Rawat.

He noted that more villages in the hill state would be connecting to the free internet initiative launched by his government.

The CM stated that the technology would be widely used for surveillance in emergency situations. The ITDA director Mr Sinha added:

“When disaster struck Kedarnath in June 2013, the remaining survivors were unreachable as mobile towers had collapsed and the roads were cut off. Aerostat technology can double-down in these situations for real-time surveillance or monitoring, and act as a mobile phone tower to guide search as well as rescue operations.”

During the launch programme, Chief Secretary Utpal Kumar Singh, Mussoorie MLA Ganesh Joshi, secretaries RK Sudhanshu, Amit Negi, IIT Mumbai professor RS Pant, ITDA director Amit Sinha, and others were present.