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VIDEO Google Bring the Idea of Broadband from Hot Air Balloons Back to Life

Saturday, June 15th, 2013 (7:48 am) - Score 1,162

The idea of distributing a broadband internet connection from High Altitude Platforms (balloons) is certainly not a new one (the 2006 CAPANINA project) but it’s never quite taken off before. Now Google hopes to make affordable internet access available to developing countries by re-inflating the idea.

The so called Project Loon aims to launch around 30 super-pressure helium-filled and solar powered balloons from its base in New Zealand. Each balloon (or “Loon” if you’re so inclined) will drift (controlled) about 20km (12 miles) above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere and from there it can act a bit like a budget Satellite with significantly less coverage.

A directed signal goes from Google’s ground station, up to the balloon and after that it just needs to be re-distributed back down to the earth over a wider area. Some 50 testers are helping with the effort, which hopes to keep the balloons aloft for around 100 days so that they can cover an area of about 40km in diameter. It’s unclear whether all of the Loons will be aloft at the same time.

Speeds similar to a 3G based Mobile Broadband service are expected but in reality nobody is quite sure how effective this will be until it’s given a chance. In the past such networks have often turned out to be more expensive than first predicted or were too susceptible to the weather for reliable connectivity.

But you don’t need us to tell you all about Project Loon, just check out the video below. One thing is for sure, if you build a balloon today then there’s always a risk that Austrian pilot Felix Baumgartner might turn up to jump from it (here). We just hope their bubble doesn’t burst. Ok, enough puns?

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Phil

    nice idea but it won’t last forever.

  2. Avatar hmm

    full of hot air

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