Floats proposal for Project Loon to ensure uninterrupted connectivity

The Tamil Nadu government has requested Google to set up a Google Center in the State and the internet giant has agreed to consider the proposal, according to State Information Technology Minister M. Manikandan. The government has also requested Google to establish ‘Project Loon’ – a high-altitude ‘balloon facility’ that provides internet connectivity – in Chennai, to help ensure communication during times of natural disasters.

Speaking to reporters after meeting senior Indian officials of Google at the State Secretariat on Wednesday afternoon, . Manikandan said the State government would request Google CEO Sundar Pichai to visit Tamil Nadu. “We want to go and meet him. The Chief Minister is keen to meet him,” he said.

In case such a possibility did not fructify, State government officials would seek time from . Pichai and go to the Google headquarters in the US and meet him there, he said. “We are already making plans to go and meet him in the US,” the IT Minister said.

“We have asked them whether they can set up a Google Center here. They have said that possibilities are there. They already have four centers in India – Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Tamil Nadu is one of the top IT destinations in India. The officials have told us they will inform the CEO and take a decision on it,” . Manikandan said.

The Minister said since Chennai was seeing a lot of natural calamities, a technology like ‘Project Loon’ will help to ensure that communication was not disrupted. “Once the balloon is set up, it will provide internet connectivity around a 20 km radius. So when natural disasters happen, it will help ensure that people don’t lose communication facility and have access to the internet,” he said.

‘Internet Saathi’ launched

On Wednesday, Google and Tata Trusts launched the “Internet Saathi” scheme in the State covering 4,000 villages. As part of the scheme, women will be trained to use the internet. Initially, the program will cover villages: Pooriyampakkam, Sankarapuram, Chinnasalem, T. Kallupatti, Iyyanapuram and Kannarapettai.

“Through the expansion in Tamil Nadu, we hope to benefit over 6,00,000 women in the first phase and will be adding more villages as we move forward,” Chetan Krishnaswamy, director, Public Policy, Google India, was quoted as saying in a press release. The Internet Saathi program was launched in July 2015 as a pilot project in Rajasthan.

. Manikandan further said that the Google has sought details on the feasibility of expanding its free wifi program across Tamil Nadu. “Right now, Google and RailTel are providing free wifi in 28 railway stations in Tamil Nadu,” he said. – The Hindu 



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