Google Brings Web Access to Remote Areas Using High-Altitude Balloons
Google's Project Loon balloon-powered Internet project is getting under way this month in New Zealand with testing and trials.Google is experimenting with a series of high-altitude balloons over New Zealand to build a high-speed Internet network that could be used to bring affordable Internet service to far-flung locations around the world for the first time. The experiment, called Project Loon, is being touted as a high-tech way to create Internet connections for two-thirds of the people in the world who currently don't have Internet access due to high costs and the difficulty of stringing connections in rural and far-flung parts of the world, Mike Cassidy, project lead, wrote in a June 14 post on The Google Official Blog. "There are many terrestrial challenges to Internet connectivity—jungles, archipelagos, mountains," wrote Cassidy. "Solving these problems isn't simply a question of time: it requires looking at the problem of access from new angles. So today we're unveiling our latest moonshot from [the secretive Google research lab] Google[x]: balloon-powered Internet access." The idea, wrote Cassidy, is to use a series of high-altitude balloons that could provide Internet access to even the most remote areas of the planet.
"We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provide Internet access to the Earth below," he wrote. "It's very early days, but we've built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today's 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters."