Google’s “Project Loon” To Put WiFi In Balloons
Ryan Martin / 5 years ago
Believe it or not the majority of the world doesn’t have access to the internet, mainly because they cannot afford it but sometimes because the necessary infrastructure isn’t in place. Google, being one of the dominant Internet brands of our time, is looking to change this with Project Loon.
Project Loon seeks to put a network of high altitude (20 km) balloons over the world to provide it with wireless internet everywhere. The balloons they intend to use are about 15 metres in diameter but once in the sky they can only be seen with telescopes. Google intends’s to use high altitude winds as a steering mechanism to ensure that all these balloons stay connected, in effect they would be “sailing the stratosphere”.
The complex network which creates the internet connection works by broadcasting the internet from local ground based “internet stations” up to the balloons which then broadcast it back down to special antennas that people can have on their homes. These antennas point upwards to the balloons to received the connection. The wireless equipment Google are using has been designed to only work within its own Project Loon, as to minimise interference and maximise bandwidth.
The balloons are solar powered and controlled at a central “mission control”. Google has to work very closely with air traffic controls to ensure minimal risk when putting these balloons up or down. Furthermore Google is creating collection points to bring these balloons down for repairs and maintenance. They aim to have bands of Balloons at different latitudes to get the best coverage of the whole world since the Stratospheric winds generally travel West to East.
Only time will tell if Google can successfully bring internet to the whole world but I think it is quite an admirable mission. Though that said we must be wary that Google aren’t just doing it for the good of the planet but so they can expand internet connectivity and therefore expand their business in addition to having a monopoly on internet provision in many places over the world.
What are your thoughts on Project Loon?
Image courtesy of Google