Google has “almost perfected” its Loon balloon technology, with the first deal with operators set to be announced “hopefully very soon”, said Wael Fakharany, Google regional business lead.

“The operators control the distribution, marketing, OSS, BSS, CRM – the customer relationship is with the telcos. We are just the infrastructure provider,” he said. “There is a viable commercial business model and is based on skin-in-the-game, sharing costs and revenue with operators for completely untouched potential.”

Telefonica, Telstra and Vodafone are among the mobile operators to have tested the Project Loon platform so far.

Fakharany said Project Loon commercial operations are expected not only in the Southern Hemisphere, where its initial tests have taken place, but also in the Northern Hemisphere, including, notably, the United States.

“The idea right now, which we are very, very excited about, is that as we enter 2016 it’s all about scalability,” said Fakharany. “It’s all about marketing this as fast as possible not only in rural Africa, but rural India, parts of the US.”