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Google Lab links two African countries with laser internet - 20 Gbps per 10 km by air

Light rain, haze, and birds do not interfere with such a communication channel.



Google X has provided Internet to the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a wireless laser system. For 20 days of operation, the air communication channel transmitted more than 700 TB of data, while the communication reliability was 99.9%. Vivian Blumenthal posted this on her blog.


The laser channel connected Kinshasa with Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, where the Internet is five times cheaper. The cities stand on the banks of the Congo River - the deepest river in the world (over 230 meters) with a very fast flow. In such conditions, it was impossible to lay a cable between Brazzaville and Kinshasa, so laboratory X built an overhead line as part of the Taara project - the creation of a global network of laser Internet.

Wireless optical communication technology (FSO or WOC) has long been considered unreliable and expensive, but Lab X has perfected it. First of all, the specialists have improved the means of guidance and tracking of the laser beam - now the transmitter can hit a 5-centimeter receiver from 10 km.


At the same time, the equipment dynamically adjusts to the conditions, changing the transmission power depending on the weather and interference in the form of birds and animals. The latter problem turned out to be especially acute during tests in India , where monkeys climbed on towers and shook transmitters. Now, according to the statements of the staff of laboratory X, end users do not feel the difference between air and fiber-optic Internet.


Laboratory X researchers investigated the conditions for the installation of laser air communication points around the world. They have created a global map that shows where optical wireless will perform best or worst.


Wireless optical communication has a number of advantages - first of all, it is well suited for places where it is impossible to lay cables. It is easy to deploy - you just need to place two transmitters within the line of sight. Data can be transmitted over the air not only with a laser, but also with LEDs of sufficient power, which is used by radio amateurs. There is open source optical communications equipment and specifications that allow you to create your own solutions on this basis.


Among the disadvantages of FSO is the low resistance of most equipment to fog, rain, smog, wind and snow. It should also be borne in mind that the beam of a laser or LED is scattered to a certain extent in the atmosphere. Therefore, it makes sense to use optical channels for intracity communication between buildings or as an alternative to traditional channels.


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