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Airtel and Alphabet Partner to Deploy Light Beam-Based Internet Services

The project has currently been deployed in rural areas in Andhra Pradesh in India and parts of Africa. 

On June 26, Google’s parent company Alphabet announced that it has partnered with Indian telecom provider Airtel to provide high-speed internet services in both urban and rural areas in India as a part of its Taara project. The two companies have been working together on pilot testing the Taara project since 2019. 

The Taara project uses light to transmit information at super-high speeds through the air as a very narrow, invisible beam and was created by Alphabet’s innovation lab X-The MoonShot Factory. The project has currently been deployed in rural areas in Andhra Pradesh in India and parts of Africa. 


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The context of this partnership:

According to a report by Financial Express, in 2022, Google shared its plans to invest $1 billion in Airtel, of which it bought 1.2% of total post-issue equity shares in the company for $700 million. The remaining amount was to be used for multi-year plans related to devices and other programs around digital inclusion. It has also previously invested in Jio Platforms for $4.5 billion. Both these investments fall under Google’s India Digitisation Fund, through which it has committed to invest $10 billion over 5 to 7 years.

Why it matters:

According to Alphabet, while fiber optic cables can be used to meet the growing demand for the internet, this may not always be feasible. Planning and digging trenches to lay fiber optic cables can take a long time and be very costly, and sometimes, the terrain might also be too challenging to lay down fiber optic cables in. Thus, it says that Taara, which it claims is cost-effective and quickly deployable, can help plug critical gaps in major access points, like cell towers and WiFi hotspots. While the company claims that the Taara Project will provide cost effective internet, it doesn’t mention how much the service cost or how its cost compares to that of the pre-existent internet services.

How Taara works:

Taara uses a narrow invisible beam of light to transmit information at speeds as high as 20 gigabits per second. This beam is sent between two small Taara terminals to create a link. Taara creates links by relying on its partner’s (which in India’s case is Airtel) fiber optic network above ground. 


This post is released under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license. Please feel free to republish on your site, with attribution and a link. Adaptation and rewriting, though allowed, should be true to the original.

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