Alphabet Uses Light Beams to Deliver Wireless Internet From 12 Miles Away

Project Taara is partnering up with a local telecom company to deliver wireless internet in Kenya.
Fabienne Lang
Project TaaraX Company

In the morning you check your smartphone for any overnight messages, log onto your computer for work, and read the news from your tablet without batting an eyelid. 

For many people around the world, this isn't as easily accessible. Hence Alphabet's project of delivering wireless internet to hard-to-reach places, rural areas, and disaster-stricken spots

Alphabet's latest project, Taara, is working on delivering wireless internet in Kenya through light beams covering a distance of up to 12 miles (20 km)


A number of pilot tests were carried last year in Kenya to deliver internet to residents, and now the team is partnering up with local telecom company Econet and its subsidiaries to make this a reality. 

Kenya will be the guinea pig of the project, and once successfully deployed, other Sub-Saharan African nations will follow suit, per the project's blog post

Alphabet Uses Light Beams to Deliver Wireless Internet From 12 Miles Away
Project Taara's terminals have to be installed high up on rooftops, poles, and towers. Source: X

Project Taara's General Manager, Mahesh Krishnaswamy, posted an announcement of the team's plans on Alphabet's blog, outlining their intentions.

The plan is to "expand and enhance affordable, high-speed internet to communicate across their networks in Sub-Saharan Africa," wrote Krishnaswamy. 

"Taara's links will begin rolling out across Liquid Telecom's networks in Kenya first, and will help provide high-speed connectivity in places where it's challenging to lay fiber cables, or where deploying fiber might be too costly or dangerous—for example over rivers, across national parks, or in post-conflict zones," he continued.

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The way Taara's technology works is similar to fiber-optic cables, just without the actual cables. Instead, it uses light to transmit data.

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Taara uses beams to transmit high-speed internet over long distances. Source: X

"This beam is sent between two small Taara terminals to create a link. A single Taara link can cover distances up to 20km and can transmit bandwidth of up to 20Gbps+—that's enough connectivity for thousands of people to be watching YouTube at the same time," per Krishnaswamy's post

These require line-of-sight connections, so Alphabet's terminals will be posted high up. 

Project Taara is being carried out by Alphabet's subsidiary, X, and grew out from the company's Loon project, which involves using huge balloons to cover internet in remote areas.