Google's Project Loon Test Flight in Brazil Shows Promise
A Project Loon test balloon allowed students in a rural classroom in Brazil for the first time ever to connect wirelessly to the Internet right from inside their school.Google's Project Loon has reached several key milestones in testing being done in Brazil as the innovative Loon experiment moves forward to deliver affordable high-speed Internet access to users in remote locations using connections made through high-altitude balloons. One of the first successes is the connection of a school on the rural outskirts of the town of Campo Maior to the Internet for the first time using the wireless connections through a Loon balloon, according to a June 16 post on the Project Loon Google+ page. "The vast majority of this community doesn't have Internet or cell service—but the locals know of a few very specific spots around town where they might find a weak signal," the post states. "So if you see them sitting in trees, you'll know why. (In fact, they have a word for this—'vaga-lume,' which means 'fireflying' in English—because at night that's what the glow from their mobile phones looks like.) But with the Project Loon team in town and one of our balloons overhead, the students in [a] geography class were able to get to the Internet from their classroom for the first time as they learned about world cultures." The successful test flight also marked a few other significant firsts for Project Loon, the post states. "Launching near the equator taught us to overcome more dramatic temperature profiles, dripping humidity and scorpions. And we tested LTE technology for the first time; this could enable us to provide an Internet signal directly to mobile phones, opening up more options for bringing Internet access to more places."
Project Loon, which was unveiled in June 2013, 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.