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Google lays fibre network in Uganda's capital with Project Link

Google's Project Link has become a wholesale access provider for operators in Uganda.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has launched Project Link, a fibre network access project for developing countries that has already begun in Uganda's capital, Kampala.

Google's Loon balloon-powered connectivity project launched earlier this year with ambitions to deliver better internet access to poorly-connected parts of the world.

On Wednesday, Google revealed a more direct plan, Project Link, to deliver higher-speed broadband to locations that don't have the infrastructure to deliver stable internet connections.

With Project Link, Google has laid a fibre broadband network in Kampala, a city of three million people, relies on connectivity that "often sputters on pre-broadband speeds or unreliable connections", Kai Wulff, an access field director for the project, wrote on Google's Africa blog.

"Project Link is about unleashing what's possible when cities like Kampala are better connected. Solutions with virtually unlimited capacity are prepared for the future and ensure we can work with local providers to build a stronger web everywhere, including Africa," Google wrote on the Project Link page.

There's no indication from Google which city it will launch Link services in next. Unlike Google Fibre in the US, where the company sells broadband access to end-users, Project Link's fibre network is aimed offering higher-speed wholesale access to local mobile operators or ISPs who, according to Wulff, can then create their own product lines.

"It enables local providers to offer new mobile data plans or high-speed internet for office buildings and universities, and support newer technologies as they come to market," Wulff noted.

Uganda mobile providers include Orange, UTL and MTN, which has already launched an LTE network in Kampala with theoretical maximum download speeds up to 100Mbps.  

The network fills a blackspot in the city's internet supply chain, according to Wulff. "Some parts of the chain are already strong: undersea cables are bringing data to Africa's shores and mobile providers are expanding services across the continent. We've now built quality infrastructure in between these points to deliver the speed and capacity that supports the latest and greatest of the web."

Unlike Project Link, Project Loon is a more experimental play — announced in June, Loon is a Google X Lab 'moonshot' scheme that launched 30 radio-equipped air balloons over New Zealand with the aim of delivering 3G-like speeds.

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