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Chennai-born Google CEO, 43-year old Sundar Pichai, had some anxious moments during the recent floods in the city as he was unable to reach his family members.
While Mr. Pichai’s relatives are now confirmed to be safe, he said that amid natural disasters – like the one in Chennai where people get cut off from the grid – Google’s Project Loon that uses helium-filled balloons to provide data connectivity in remote areas could be of great help.
“When a natural disaster hits, people often get no network coverage, as it happened in Chennai as well. Project Loon is focussed on providing connectivity in rural areas, and we can use software to position these balloons to areas where there’s no coverage or network capacity is less,” Mr. Pichai said, in a meeting with editors here on Wednesday.
“People are figuring out the right model for providing aerial data connectivity without towers and optic fibre cables,” he said.
Government fears Google plan may hit cellular service
The Centre has expressed fears that the frequency band proposed to be used by Google could interfere with cellular transmissions.
“The proposed frequency band to be used in Google’s Loon Project is being used for cellular operations and it will lead to interference with cellular transmissions,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said.
“We have had many meetings with the government on this and are working through the process,” Chennai-born Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, adding that it is looking to work with telecom operators in the 700-900 Mhz spectrum band.
The Google CEO, who met Mr. Prasad on Wednesday, said the company had ‘tonnes of data’ from its Loon tests in Sri Lanka and Indonesia to demonstrate there was no such interference and would be sharing it with the government. As per Google, each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area of about 40 km in diameter using a wireless communications technology called 4G.
Constraints inspire creativity
Mr. Pichai said the ease of doing business in India had improved in the past two years but it should get a ‘whole lot better’ going forward. On the flip side, he said the constraints in the Indian system inspired creativity and triggered innovation.
“When you deal with issues in India, you work through a lot of such things that make your idea even better so they can be used in other markets around the world,” Mr. Pichai said, citing Google’s experience with offering Youtube videos in offline mode. The service was launched in India but is now popular in 77 countries, he pointed out.
Mr. Pichai said that though his blog last week in favour of tolerance and respect for diversity was written in the U.S. context, he hoped the same universal values apply in India’s diverse society.
Reacting to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s idea of banning Muslims from the U.S., Mr. Pichai, who himself moved to the U.S. in 1983, wrote that America is a country of immigrants. “The open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance of new Americans are one of the country’s greatest strengths and most defining characteristics,” he wrote.
He strongly backed the need for net neutrality — a principle that data services should be equally accessible to all users, without favouring particular products or websites. “Google wouldn’t have succeeded without a free, open and strong Internet.”
From: The Hindu