Alphabet's Project Taara uses lasers to beam internet across tricky terrain

The technology bridges a "particularly stubborn connectivity gap" over the Congo River.

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Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
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Erin Carson

The Congo River


Technology left over from Alphabet's Project Loon is capable of transmitting 700TB of data across the Congo River, the company's moonshot lab X said in a blog post on Thursday.

Project Taara used wireless optical communications links to bring broadband to a section between Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which the post described as a "particularly stubborn connectivity gap." 

The blog post compared the amount of data beamed via laser to "the equivalent of watching a FIFA World Cup match in HD 270,000 times -- in 20 days with 99.9% availability."

"While we don't expect to see perfect reliability in all kinds of weather and conditions in the future, we're confident Taara's links will continue to deliver similar performance and will play a key role in bringing faster, more affordable connectivity to the 17 million people living in these cities," wrote Baris Erkmen, director of engineering for Project Taara, in the post.

The links were originally intended to keep Project Loon's stratospheric balloons connected as they delivered wireless internet. 

Alphabet isn't the only company trying to tackle the question of how to bring internet to hard-to-reach areas. SpaceX's Starlink is using satellites, and Facebook has also made various investments in programs working on the problem.