Alphabet's X Labs to share FSOC technology for Andhra's fiber grid

X’s Captain of Moonshots Astro Teller (right) and Andhra Pradesh IT Minister Nara Lokesh at the X campus in California | BS Picture
In a first, X Development LLC, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc, will supply and deploy two thousand cutting-edge Free Space Optical Communication (FSOC) links for Andhra Pradesh (AP) fiber-grid.

FSFC is an optical communication technology that uses light to wirelessly transmit data to telecommunication and internet applications. The technology remained outside the commercial applications for long owing to distance, speed, and efficiency related problems, which are a thing of past going by the specs of SPOC links being offered to AP government.

Known for its work on the development of Google's driverless car, X Labs is going to implement FSOC technology that can provide wireless internet connectivity with as much as 20-gigabit speed and to a distance of up to 20 km, in the state.

A delegation headed by AP IT minister Nara Lokesh entered into an agreement with X Labs CEO Astro Teller for this collaboration at the latter's headquarters in Mountainview in California late on Friday, after months of testing the suitability of this technology for AP fiber grid.

AP executed this 3-in-1 (phone, internet, and television) connectivity project entirely using the electric poles, stringing 24,000 km of overhead fiber cable, and is expected to cover 85 per cent of the households in the state. The government proposes to use FSOC technology to connect the remaining areas that are cut-off by difficult terrain, forest areas, river crossings, railway crossings etc. besides increasing the network reliability.

Through this network, the state government promises to give 10-20 Mbps connectivity for all households and 1-10 Gbps for institutions and multi-dwelling units.

X will initially supply AP with two thousand FSOC Links. Its engineers and experts on site will work with APFSL (AP Fibernet Limited) personnel to identify suitable sites for deployment of FSOC links, X will also set up a local office for real-time support for the project, according to the state government. The authorities did not reveal the cost of this technology deal.

"The government of Andhra Pradesh is committed to bringing high-speed internet and broadband connections to about 12 million households and 130,000 enterprises by March 2019, Our government has always championed advanced technology solutions for the greater good of the people of the state and we are thrilled as APSFL and X are joining forces," minister Lokesh said after signing the agreement.

Entrepreneur scientist Astro Teller stated, "We're delighted to be partnering with AP FiberNet on this promising innovation that could overcome some of the long-standing challenges of getting high-speed internet too hard to reach areas, and look forward to helping them make the benefits of the web more accessible to more people in Andhra Pradesh."

Founded by Google in 2010 as Google X with an aim to work on finding solutions to the world's large problems, this American semi-secret advanced technology lab facility became an independent Alphabet company and was renamed as X after Google was restructured into Alphabet in the year 2015. It has been working on several projects including driver-less car, product delivery through flying vehicles, Project Loon, Google glass among other technologies.

A major spin-off from FSOC technology is believed to be that it can enable the existing telecom towers, which are low data rate microwave links, to upgrade from 2G to 3G/4G services.