Google’s dream to provide internet access to everyone around the world covering rural and remote areas made Google’s research and development team to come up with a unique solution under the name of Project Loon, Balloon-Powered internet for all. Project Loon began in June 2013 with an experimental pilot in New Zealand and tested this technology in Christchurch and Canterbury.
As per Wikipedia, this project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 20 km (12 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds. Interestingly, the desired direction and speed of the Balloon can be determined using the wind data provided by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and users can access the internet through balloon network using special internet antenna’s which will be on their buildings or roof tops. For balloon-to-balloon and balloon-to-ground communications, the balloons use antennas equipped with specialized radio frequency technology.
There are many interesting (Must Read) facts available on internet on the technology used, how the design is prepared and how Balloon will fly in space and how each balloon will communicate between them. I am more excited to see its design and its concept of charging it’s electrical components through solar panels due to which I believe there are low chances that it will disconnect occasionally.
Google has explained it in a very simple way on how Loon balloon is designed to stay aloft for three trips around the globe on Loon’s Google+ site. To us, it might sound easy and small thing but imagine how difficult it will be to manage Loon Balloon’s which are floating 12 miles above the earth with no human in it and they are flying in different zone, oceans etc.
I believe the idea to design this technology will allow countries to avoid using expensive fiber cables, where cost of installing underground fiber is high and at times impossible to reach rural and remote areas. This will also increase the usage of internet and will allow us to explore and connect with those areas, which are yet untouched.
Project Loon has been welcomed with warm hands. However, there are many concerns, which also cropped up. Since Google does not yet define the cost of this project, talks are there that it will not be that cheap for rural population to afford and hence might lose the determination and will might end up being an another tool for government or agencies to invade privacies. Some experts also criticized it by saying that it is an an attempt to increase market share.
Bill Gates criticized Project Loon, stating that: “When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you. When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there is no website that relieves that.”
Despite of all the criticism, project loon is making its way to go public and positively soon we will see them in our air. I am anxious to see how these balloons going to float in our space and what will be our reaction.