Google officially launches Internet-delivering balloons

Credit: AP/Jon Shenk

In our heavily-connected society, it's hard to believe that there are still some areas of the world that don't have a fast and affordable Internet connection. Consider people who live in remote locations such as jungles, mountains and archipelagos where internet is currently unavailable. Leave it to Google to provide a solution that sounds crazy, but might actually work. The company has confirmed plans for Project Loon, an endeavor that will launch internet-delivering balloons into the sky over remote locations.

It may sound far-fetched, but Google seems to have it all figured out. According to the Google Blog, the balloons will sail freely on the winds, but movement will be controlled with wind and solar power. Of course, should Project Loon take off (pun intended), Google needs a plan to manage a whole fleet of balloons around the world. This will require a lot of complex algorithms and computing power.

Why did Google choose balloons? Balloons can fly twice as high as commercial planes over rough terrain, mountains and jungles. The balloons then can connect to the Internet without needing a complex physical infrastructure in place on the ground. So instead of having to set up an entire network, the balloons connect with specialized antennas on the ground. This connection would communicate with a ground station that would be connected to a local Internet service provider.

The program began this week with a test in the Canterbury area of New Zealand. Google launched 30 balloons with 50 testers on the ground trying to connect to the Internet. Google hopes that the results of this test will help in improving the technology they are using for Project Loon, as well as balloon design.

In the future, Google would like to set up Project Loon pilot programs in other countries, as well as find partners willing to work on the next phase of the project.

Via Google

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