Sep 17, 2021

Google’s Project Taara Wirelessly Transmits 700TB Across a River in 20 Days

Posted by in categories: computing, internet

Google runs a plethora of aspirational projects to explore one moonshot or another, but only some become real products. The company’s Project Loon internet balloons didn’t make the cut, having shut down in early 2021. However, one aspect of Loon has lived on to become its own Googley project. Google says it has used the Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) links developed for Project Loon to beam hundreds of terabytes of data nearly five kilometers, no wires necessary.

Now under the purview of the company’s X labs, the little-known Project Taara is already enhancing connectivity in Kenya and India. Google says FSOC is essentially a fiber optic connection (up to 20 Gbps) without the wires, but it requires a direct line of sight. In Africa, Taara is now beaming data across the Congo River from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After setting up the links over the past few years, Google is now sharing some of the project’s more impressive metrics.

Project Taara lead Baris Erkmen notes that Project Taara transmitted 700 TB over a recent 20-day period. This helped to back up wired connections in use by Google’s local partner Econet. Testing Taara in Africa makes sense because line-of-sight laser communication falls apart in a foggy locale like Google’s Bay Area home, and the fast-flowing Congo River has made connectivity in the region much more expensive.

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