Did you know that almost two thirds of the world does not have access to the internet? Did you also know that Google has been working on changing that? If you didn’t, then say hello to Project Loon.
Project Loon was launched in June 2013 and aims to provide internet coverage in remote and rural areas around the world. How will it do that? Through a network of polythene balloons floating in the stratosphere at an altitude of around 32 kilometers. This is twice as high as airplanes and well out of the clutches of weather. The stratospheric winds vary in speed and direction which not only depends on location, temperature and season but also the altitude. Typically, the speed is most stable at altitudes of 20 km and 90 km. Google’s algorithms will determine where to move the balloons and would take them to the desired location by moving them to the appropriate altitude.
Each balloon is designed to provide internet coverage in a 20 km radius of ground area at speeds that match those of 3G. Antennas programmed to a specific frequency will be used for communication between the balloon and the ground.
How will the service actually work? Well, Google will lease the balloons to telecom operators across the globe; so when a balloon flies over a country, it will use the spectrum of the operator who has leased it to provide connectivity. Google has been testing LTE in the U.S. with its Loons, and very recently one of its Loons completed a round trip around the earth in just 22 days.
Even though there’s still a long way to go till this ambitious project is commercially launched, it’s still fascinating to see the giant strides technology is taking. Imagine the possibilities this could open up for disaster recovery, communication, human development and well, what not!
To stay updated with the latest on Project Loon, follow its Google+ page.