Google, progress in worldwide broadband diffusion. Even wireless!

Google previously inaccessible. In the past few hours, the company announced important advances in two projects in this area – in particular relating to the Grace Hopper submarine cable announced last year and to the “fiber optic technology. wireless “with laser beams .


Some projects for wireless internet broadcasting, such as that of footballs Loon balloons, they did not work as hoped, but you know, ideas can be recycled, adapted, framed in a new context in which they can make sense. Project Taara is an example of this philosophy: it is a very high speed and medium range laser communication system born in Loon’s lap (it was used by balloons to transmit data to each other), and which has been tested for some time in various developing countries, such as India and more recently Kenya.

To be precise, the transmission technology is called FSOC ( Free Space Optical Cable ): we can speak of “wireless optical fiber” due to the transmission speeds (over 20 Gbps). Taara is the equipment that makes FSOC possible: they are basically repeaters / “projectors” that shoot laser beams at each other . The repeater sending the beam must “see” the recipient; the maximum distance between one and the other is approximately 10 km.

Taara links have been installed along the Congo River 20 days ago , to connect the two cities Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, and Kinshasa, which is instead the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire, so to speak). In this time frame, the repeaters have transmitted well 700 TB of data , thus enhancing the traditional fiber optic connections of the local service provider Econet. Taara is designed to be “transparent” to the end user, who does not know if he is using a traditional fiber connection or FSOC. The goal is to provide a completely indistinguishable user experience.

Google explains that Taara managed to stay online for 99, 9% of the test period . It is clear that the system is highly dependent on climatic conditions – which is why it has been tested in Africa, and not in hazy London, so to speak; there is some resistance to phenomena such as light rain, haze and temporary obstacles to the beam, such as birds; and the projectors are able to adapt power and direction of the beam to always ensure optimal alignment. But it is true that so far there have not been events sufficiently intense to undermine the system, in order to evaluate this aspect as well.

However, the advantages, in the right conditions, are enormous, because they allow to circumvent any morphological complications of the terrain. In other words: the two cities are just a few kilometers away from each other, as the crow flies, but are separated by a very deep and tumultuous river, precisely the Congo: it would take 400 km of optical fiber for a direct connection, which would cost five times more than Taara’s wireless system .


Moving from air to water, Google reports progress also in a more “traditional” field, namely that of the laying of submarine cables: the cable called Grace Hopper, in honor of the US flagship who is often referred to as one of the first programmers in history, arrived in the UK.

Grace Hopper was announced last year: its goal is to connect New York via optical fiber to the cities of Bilbao, in Spain, and of Bude, precisely in U K . The cable, funded entirely by Google, has already arrived in Bilbao earlier this month. This does not mean that it is already operational: it has “only” crossed the Atlantic. It will take a few more months of work.

Grace Hopper, says Google, is a next-generation cable that contains a ‘very important technological innovation, which is called fiber switching . It allows, explains the manager Jayne Stowell, to direct the flow of traffic in a more efficient and variable way in the event of breakdowns and outages, thus improving responsiveness in crisis situations.

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