Wireless Internet connects us mainly with radio technology. However, these methods have significant limitations due to radio wave attenuation and limited bandwidth. That is why employees of X company belonging to the Alphabet, parent company of Google, think about using lasers in terrestrial communication. One of the planned applications is connecting the LTE base stations to the operator’s backbone network.

We are talking about a solution called FSOC (Free Space Optical Communications), which is currently used in the Loon project. It involves the use of stratospheric balloons, which were used to create an emergency LTE network in Puerto Rico destroyed by hurricane Maria. Optical relays work very well in the communication between flying objects. The most important is the precise aiming of the laser beam. Engineers from X lab solved this problem using artificial intelligence predicting changes in wind direction and the flight path of individual balloons. In addition, a mesh network is created in which individual balloons are used as relays.

FSOC test
X company employer during FSOC tests.

Laser connectivity with FSOC is able to create 20 Gbps link at a distance of 20 km.

The laser Internet on which X company works is not intended for home users. Nevertheless, each of us will benefit from it. The Google-based company plans to apply optical communication on earth by installing appropriate equipment on the roofs of high-rise buildings and telecommunications towers. The first experiments with new technology will be carried out in India, where only 20% of residents have access to the Internet. Operators can not afford to build LTE base stations in any place because they have problems with bringing high-speed connections for them. The installation of fiber links is extremely expensive, and the microwave radio lines are too slow. On the other hand, FSOC links offer performance similar to the fiber without its installation.

Source: X company