Project Taara have announced that they are partnering with Econet and Liquid Telecom to bring High Speed Internet to Sub-Saharan Africa, starting with Kenya. Like Project Loon, Project Taara is also under Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Through a blog post, Project Taara General Manager, Mahesh Krishnaswamy announced the partnership, saying that internet connectivity was essential for economic growth as had been witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Meaningful connectivity is essential for economic growth and to fast track access to opportunity, yet almost 4 billion people around the world remain unconnected. Meanwhile, many more people still can’t afford a connection that is fast enough to join a video call, let alone attend school or work remotely.” the blog post read.
Krishnaswamy said that Taara was developing wireless optical communication technology to deliver high speed internet connectivity over long distances using beams of light.
Taara’s links will be rolled out across Liquid Telecom’s network in Kenya. The links aim to connect areas where laying out fibre optic cable is impossible or dangerous. Liquid Telecom’s network is also used by service providers targeting highly populated areas such as Kangemi, Kawangware, Mathare and Kibera where fibre optic is an expensive option.
According to the blogpost,the connection has been piloted in the country since last year. Taara transmits data using light, just like fibre cables. The data is transmitted at high speeds through a very narrow, invisible beam.
“A single Taara link can cover distances up to 20 km and can transmit bandwidth of up to 20 Gbps+ — that’s enough connectivity for thousands of people to be watching YouTube at the same time.” Krishnaswamy says in the blogpost.
Taaras links will use access points and to retain a clear signal, the links will be mounted on high towers, rooftops or poles. Although issues to do with line of sight may be limiting, the project promises to keep many users connected. This could well work with multiple connections in areas where internet usage is slow.
Project Loon was rolled out in Kenya in March 2020. Unlike Taara, Loon uses balloons to deliver internet across communities in the country. Project Loon targets areas where setting up fibre or point to point connections is dangerous or impossible. Rural areas with rough terrains and remote connectivity are set to benefit from the project.