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Google Is Using Light Beam Tech To Connect Rural India To the Internet ( 67

Google is preparing to use light beams to bring rural areas of the planet online after it announced to a planned rollout in India. From a report: The firm is working with a telecom operator in Indian state Andhra Pradesh, home to over 50 million people, to use Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC), a technology that uses beams of light to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances. Now partner AP State FiberNet will introduce 2,000 FSOC links starting from January to add additional support to its network backbone in the state. The Google project is aimed at "critical gaps to major access points, like cell-towers and WiFi hotspots, that support thousands of people," Google said. The initiative ties into a government initiative to connect 12 million households to the internet by 2019, the U.S. firm added.
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Google Is Using Light Beam Tech To Connect Rural India To the Internet

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  • >> Light Beam Tech

    (smacks forehead) (considers whether to be embarrassed to still be on SlashDot)
    • "Laser" Tech /Dr.Evil

      Is that better?

    • >> Light Beam Tech (smacks forehead) (considers whether to be embarrassed to still be on SlashDot)

      I wonder if they might also use light beam concentration and focusing technology surface technology to help reception. These would be kept in place using the latest in vertical support mounting technology.

    • Well, if you compare it to IP over Avian Carrier, I think swinging a torch can mean "high speed, high capacity".
  • Back in the 80s I think I remember seeing giant towers that used light to let people talk from Houston to Dallas in REAL TIME! I think we called them microwaves or are microwaves no longer light? PS I did actually read the article (for once) and didnt see the frequencies that would be used
    • I think we called them microwaves or are microwaves no longer light?

      Grown-ups use the term "Electromagnetic Radiation" since "light" generally refers to the visible portion of the spectrum.

  • by Fly Swatter ( 30498 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @11:40AM (#55745567) Homepage

    Two big high tech flashlights :), looks like limited distance and fog is a problem. FSOC []

    • by e r ( 2847683 )
      Rural India is probably just happy to have any kind of internet at all. They might not even have access to clean water on the regular. Intermittent internet connectivity probably isn't even something they would consider to be a problem.
    • I'm wondering how you can mitigate that with a mesh of connections. Also it's highly dependent on where you are. Many places in the world never have any fog.
  • I mean it should be both fast and high capacity but it should also be heavily affected by rain or anything else for that matter that could break line of sight.

    • At the transportation authority I retired from in 2015 (I had over 20 years in IT...), over ten years ago we used Canon Canobeam Free Space Optics gigabit laser networking to bridge over subway tracks, and high voltage third rail and cabling, to reach a car maintenance facility plant. While that type of tech can be affected by weather, it only happened to us a couple of times. Both cases, the user reporting the outage said "It's snowing like mad, I'll call you back if it doesn't come up after the snow lets
  • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @11:55AM (#55745703)

    ses beams of light to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances

    I read the article. It was short on technical specifics. So I looked it up on wikipedia. Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) [].
    So what makes them choose this as a better choice than older proven line-of-sight technologies like Microwave radio relay []. Microwave formed the backbone of AT&T and MCI long-lines and had enough umph to carry live video. Does the light relay system really have that much more bandwidth than microwave? FSOC looks inferior to me. Shorter distance (a few hundred meters vs hundreds of kilometers for mw and more attenuation with weather (fog, rain).

    • Most likely because radio spectrum has a bewildering array of licensing issues pretty much everywhere in the world where there's government. Hardly anybody regulates light spectrum.

  • First... 'light beam'? Let me suggest first that they should have said something like 'laser signalling without fibre optic cables'. I dunno, maybe I'm crazy.

    Second, it'd be interesting to know what kind of laser - specifically, the particular window of EM they're utilizing. That will have a huge effect on what kind of atmospheric conditions it can tolerate, and how far it's good for. I've gone three links in and still can't find any mention of what frequency range they're talking about. And details on

    • We had a point-to-point free-space optical link for networks in two 14-storey buildings ... back in the late 1980s. On a good day, it was awesome. But just about *everything* degraded it - rain, fog, sunlight glare off the neighboring chrome/glass buildings, etc. Even wind was an issue - you'd be surprised at how much a modern building moves around in the wind (and it's exacerbated by the effective moment-arm of the optical leg length.) You can defocus the optics to create a larger "spot" at the receive
      • >(A properly placed pigeon, blocking the receive aperture, is equivalent to 10-30dB of path loss ... since I know you were wondering

        I've worked with microwave systems. A flock of birds could cause the system to fail over to a redundant path.

        I could also watch weather fronts move through the region as signal quality dropped then (usually) recovered.

        We never had problems with pigeons roosting, though. First, the antennas had covers over them, but second... anything that could manage to cling to those wou

    • News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters!

  • I was worried we were going to run short of $5/hr software devs...
  • If we can send a book faster by using the clacks or on horseback.

    x-clacks-overhead: GNU Terry Pratchett

  • Forrest Mims wrote about lightwave transceivers in "Getting Started in Electronics" more than 30 years ago. You could build your own lightwave communications for a few dollars in electronics parts.

    Nice to see someone has finally noticed. Also nice is the fact that you can communicate point-to-point without having to worry about licensing and rf interference issues. With lightwave, I don't have to worry about signal crowding simply because of my proximity to other users.

  • That's great! I'm sure India doesn't have a problem with stuff in the air obscuring the line of sight right??
  • Not much there to go on, but that said the Wikipedia article is substantially outdated. A more recent description of field experiments can be found at: [].

    There are plenty of papers paywalled at the SPIE site as well if you'd like to get a better feel on what the state of the art is post the 2012 experiment described in the linked article.

    All that said, the environment is your enemy as you go up in frequency - things like clouds, rain (but not always), fog (again, not a
  • Brilliant. Instead of putting a fiber in the ocean they just let the signal hop from shark to shark up and down the bay of Bengal.