The latest development from Google was accepted with open arms on one side, and some skepticism and eye rolling on the other. They have started what is known as “Project Loon” and involves sending Wi-Fi balloons into space, allowing people who are in areas with no internet access to go online. Yes, Google is boldly going where no man has gone before!
How Project Loon Works
We can expect the number of UFO sightings to go up exponentially soon. After all, a weather balloon crashed in the 1950s and people are still convinced that this was actually an alien craft. So, whenever one of Google’s balloons pop and burst, floating back down to earth, we can expect similar results. Because they really are balloons and they really are sent into the stratosphere.
Google’s latest “moonshot” project is Project Loon, a phalanx of balloons that sail in the stratosphere like low level satellites. The objective is to bring broadband capability to less developed parts of the world, an ambition Google is also pursuing through its White Spaces project.
Project Loon really represents everything that Google is all about. They have created a number of products that have given the company great press. Google Glasses, for instance, have been a hot topic for a while now, as have Driverless Cars. However, what we must remember is that Google is essentially an advertisement company, or even the king of internet marketing. Hence, for them to make money, they have to focus on ways to bring the internet to more people.
Net Access from Space – How Is it Even Possible?
So how is it even possible to give people access to the internet through space? Doesn’t that leave the potential open for people to get access without having to pay for it? And will they actually be able to make money from these balloons when we think about the fact that balloons really do have a tendency to pop.
We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. It’s very early days, but we’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster.
Added to this, Google wants to use the balloons to keep communication networks intact should there be a natural disaster. Indeed, they are playing the humanitarian angle, and that is something that people want to hear.
Will it Actually Work?
When Loon was first launched, people thought of it as loony, as the name would suggest. The biggest problem would be that balloons would always be on the move, meaning that people would only have internet access at limited times. However, Google have said that they have algorithms in place to solve this problem. And it seems that they were right, because a test in New Zealand has recently commenced.
For the time being, the team handling Project Loon is limiting the pilot test of the service to fifty residents of New Zealand. Assuming the project is successful, the team wants to find other countries around the world to partner with in order to launch more balloons and increase the reach of the network.
Indeed, 50 is not a great amount, but if it is successful, it is likely that others will follow. This, in turn, will allow Google to make further improvements to their Loon. At present, however, it seems that they have every eventuality covered and the world is looking forward to seeing the results.