Google goes Looney

Well, sort of. They are setting up Project Loon. If it succeeds it could  provide internet access potentially globally but primarily to developing – mainly Southern Hemisphere countries where current access is at best limited and even when available is often unaffordable.

The concept is Balloon Powered Internet for Everyone which may lead to a “network in the sky”. The balloons operate well above the cloud at about 20 kilometres in the stratosphere. Airplanes they reckon by & large operate at up to 10 km which is about 33,000 feet which sounds about right.

The balloons are about 15 metres in diameter and solar powered. The methodology, in our words, is that the network in the sky consists of the balloons communicating with one another and ground receiving internet antenna and ground stations which connect to local internet providers. The onboard radios are high band width and filter out any other irrelevant signals. “Mission Control” monitors and controls the balloons using the more predictable winds in the stratosphere.

Their video explains it in more detail;

Click to enlarge

Last week they set up/off a pilot launch/release  in the Christchurch/Canterbury area of New Zealand involving 30 balloons (the greatest number so far) and 50 ground testers. The BBC have some footage.

“Over time, we’d like to set up pilots in countries at the same latitude as New Zealand. We also want to find partners for the next phase of our project—we can’t wait to hear feedback and ideas from people who’ve been working for far longer than we have on this enormous problem of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.”

New Zealands latitude is about 35ºS – 47ºS and here’s a site where you can check out your coordinates.

You can follow the projects progress on Google+

Source: Primarily Google Blogpost

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