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Google to Deliver Internet Access With Balloons


JimBob
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"Google is launching a fleet of radio-equipped balloons far up in the stratosphere, twice as high as commercial aircraft fly. Instead of trying to keep them one place–which is very difficult because of prevailing winds–Project Loon is based on the notion of riding those winds with groups of balloons in planned ways that keep them close enough to each other to form communications networks, the company says.

 
Signals pass among the balloons, as well as to antennas on the buildings of users on the ground and to control stations, the company says. The company says it designed its radios and antennas to send and receive signals from Project Loon only, filtering out interference that would make it hard to create high-bandwidth data connections over long distances.
 
The balloons are completely solar-powered, Google says, so they can stay aloft for a long time. It plans to keep air traffic controllers informed of balloon launches and descents, and direct them to land at collection points regularly to reuse and recycle their parts.
 
Proving it can actually work will take tests, of course. So the company says it has started a pilot program in the Canterbury area of New Zealand, with 50 testers trying to connect to its balloons. Assuming the results are positive, it plans further tests in similar latitudes to New Zealand, and to seek partners.
 
Besides providing connections to stationary antennas in rural areas, Google is also dreaming of connecting mobile devices eventually.
 
“We imagine someday you’ll be able to use your cell phone with your existing service provider to connect to the balloons and get connectivity where there is none today,” writes Mike Cassidy, project lead for the Loon effort, in the blog post."
 
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Interesting idea but wouldn't this only be temporary? I can't see how you would be able to keep a balloon up for an extended period of time.

Oh, they could stay up for a long, long time. The problem is that in a couple of weeks, they would be over places like Christmas Island and Botswana, where they wouldn't have much commercial value. Google may be able to dictate my search results, but they cannot yet control the wind. Yet.

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I wish sprint could do something like this at sporting events or concerts. Imagine a sprint branded blimp flying over nascar or football games. Or disaster areas like Oklahoma.

 

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Interesting idea but wouldn't this only be temporary? I can't see how you would be able to keep a balloon up for an extended period of time.

 

Their intention is for the balloons to be up for ~100 days at a time. This would be in constant flux as balloons would come down, new ones would be sent up in their place. The actual cost of sending a balloon would be fairly small, minuscule in comparison to an undertaking like Google Fiber. There was an AMA (sort of) on Reddit from someone involved in the project.

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They can probably use them to enhance their weather service and satellite photos. Even though they said they wouldn't. They probably would use it eventually for those purposes.

 

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Guest sectime

SkyStation International, with the help of Alexander Haig had this in the late 90's. Another business victim of post 9/11 downturn.

Like how Google's PR machine is spinning this as their idea.

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They're using 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands, the same ones that host 802.11n WiFi right now, for this experiment. Since we're talking about fixed antennas on the ground...outside homes...you can get a little better reception than just using a cell phone.

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