Infrared Light is Taking High Speed Internet to the Developing World

Project Taara is rolling out wireless internet in Kenya.

Dec 14, 2020
Infrared Light is Taking High Speed Internet to the Developing World | Project Taara is rolling out wireless internet in Kenya.

Today, internet connectivity is essential for staying in touch with family and friends, education, business and even for health. That’s why the work of companies and organizations that are connecting the developing world to the internet are vitally important.

More than 3 billion people in the world do not have access to the internet according to Fast Company. That’s because in remote out-of-the way areas, the terrain makes them hard to reach and laying out fiber-optic cables is too difficult and too expensive. That’s why Alphabet’s X moonshot factory is testing a new approach in India and Africa to bring the internet and all its benefits to the people who need it.

The new innovative approach is to send invisible light beams that can send data long distances without cables. This approach is similar to fiber networks that also use light to carry data but this works in the air instead of through cables. Small boxes containing communication, electrical, and optical tech, placed on high towers – the beams must be uninterrupted – can send out the infrared light beams to another tower 12 miles (19.31 kilometers) away.

This is being done through the moonshot factory’s Project Taara to bridge the internet gap between the developed and developing world. The project has been working with many partners around the globe to learn how this new technology can be used to bring broadband internet to communities that do not have it according to an X company blog.

Now, Taara is working with Econet and its subsidiary Liquid Telecom to bring high speed internet to sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Kenya with Liquid Telecom’s network. Kenya is an excellent place to use this technology because using fiber is too costly across national parks and too dangerous in post-conflict areas.

The Taara team also recently tested the technology in India. This is not the first-time new technology has been tested to bring internet to remote areas. Project Loon, another X project has used balloons to bring internet access, beginning in 2013 for emergency access. Balloon internet became a reality earlier in 2020 in Kenya.

There are already 35,000 users of Loon who have used the service to search websites, stream videos, and used communication services like WhatsApp.

Bridging the internet divide to areas that do not have it will help students who are learning remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, empower women so that they can support their families, and make rural businesses open to world commerce. Who knew that pulses of light could do so much good?

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.