Google is soon releasing a network of 30 hi-tech balloons over the Southern Hemisphere in an effort to give Internet access for the world’s most remote areas. This much awaited project is named as ‘Project Loon‘. The first trial of balloons will be launched from New Zealand’s South Island this month. These high-altitude balloons are solar-powered and ride in the wind about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) – twice as high as airplanes – above the ground, Google made this announcement last Friday.
These balloons will sail in the stratosphere like low level satellites and the main motive behind it is to give broadband capability to less developed parts of the world. Two third of the world’s population don’t have access to Internet till now. Project Loon will fill all coverage gaps and make them a part of the global Internet community.
Project Loon provides Internet access for all in a much more cheaper and quicker way than in traditional underground fiber cables. These helium-filled balloons are made from a thin polyethylene film and are 15 meters (49 feet) in diameter when fully inflated. The transmitter on each balloon would provide Internet access to an area of about 1,250 square kilometers (780 square miles) – twice the size of New York City.
Winds in the stratosphere are usually steady and slow, moving at the rate of 5 to 20 metre per hour. Apart from that each layer of wind varies in direction and magnitude. Project Loon will make use of algorithms to decide where the balloons should go and then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons form a network of airborne hot spots that can deliver Internet access over a broad area at speeds comparable to 3G using open radio frequency bands, Google mentioned. The balloons will make use of solar power to move the communications equipment between layers of slow moving winds.
For connecting to the balloon network, a special Internet antenna will be attached to the buildings below. The 30 balloons deployed in New Zealand this month will beam Internet to a small group of pilot testers and be used to refine the technology and shape the next phase of Project Loon, Google said.
If these balloons do well, then Google will definitely make a great position in the emerging global infrastructure club. The world will move beyond 3G, the capacity Google expects from its balloons. This makes Google’s second most important project unique in every way.