Laser-powered internet delivers fibre-speed broadband to remote locations

Research and development company, X, has developed ‘light speed’ wireless optical communications technology to deliver broadband connectivity across the Congo River.

X has experimented with other applications to deliver broadband to remote locations, using balloons in the stratosphere to deliver fast broadband to remote areas of Africa with its now scrapped Project Loon.

X took the lessons learned during Project Loon with its new Project Taraa, using ‘Taraa links’ to beam connectivity across the deepest river on Earth, the Congo River.

Traditionally, fibre connections have had to travel more than 400 kilometres around the river, driving up connectivity prices. To date, Project Taraa has enabled almost 700 terabytes of data in 20 days with a reported 99.99% availability, offering connectivity to 17 million people living in the cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

The Taraa links use narrow, invisible beams of light to deliver fibre-optic speeds, with Taraa terminals searching for each other by detecting the beams of other terminals and locking in to create a high-bandwidth connection.

Wireless optical communications had not been considered a viable option in the past due to signal reliability issues, such as fog and haze or birds flying in front of the signal. X has countered this by refining pointing and tracking capabilities by enabling a light beam to accurately hit a 5cm target from 10 kilometres away. This has been accompanied by improvements to atmospheric sensing, mirror controls and motion detection capabilities to enable the terminals to automatically adjust to changes in the environment to maintain the connection.

Article Categories