Advanced system of high-altitude balloons delivering 3G-like speeds to rural areas

The latest project to come out of Google may seem like an April Fool's joke at first, but Google is serious when it says it intends to launch an internet delivery service based on high-altitude balloons. Known now as "Project Loon" and coming out of the research arm of the company, Google[x], the initiative is taking off (so to speak) out of the need for better internet access in many parts of the world. As it explains in its official blog post about the project, 2 out of every 3 people in the world still don't have reliable access to the internet, leaving many large swaths of the world in the past.

Rather than try to bring traditional wireline or satellite internet into these areas, which can be quite costly, with Project Loon Google plans to set up a system of free-floating high-altitude balloons to create a network with a wider reach. In its preliminary testing Google says it can create networks that have speeds comparable to today's 3G networks -- an impressive feat considering these balloons are flying twice as high as commercial airplanes.

Letting the balloons follow natural winds and relying on solar power alone has proven to be quite successful in this testing, and while it may be a long way off from a full deployment, Google is willing to give it a try. You can catch more specifics on the science behind Project Loon at the source link below, or watch an introductory video above.

Source: Google Official Blog


Reader comments

Google's latest 'moonshot' idea: balloon-powered internet for all


Or Microsoft could have included cellular connectivity that was simply used to just ping servers in the event WiFi or ethernet doesn't have a connection - to verify game licenses. Would have easily made that a non issue.

No, it's easier and better for business by cutting them completely out of having the Xbox One as an option and telling them to settle for last gens console lol

When one of the balloons goes rouge and drifts where it shouldn't can we have some biplanes on hand to shoot it down WW I style?

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Damn autocorrect! But I still, random color changes are also a good reason to shoot them down.

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In New Zealand, though at the other end of the country from where they're testing it. Very exciting stuff. There's a fantastic post on reddit where a local who is part of the trial has described what it's like (during half time in the rugby!)

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The cost of retrieval will swamp any advantages to this technology. Its made of frickin' plastic a real threat to our environment for dogs sake. Every one would have to be retrieved. Now solar powered aircraft flying the same route though much more expensive would actually fulfill the need for the internet in very large rural areas and they could be maneuvered around in a circle to stay in place and cover an area an aircraft could land at an airport for servicing.

Groups of weather balloons flying around is a real threat to the environment? But the alternative of digging trenches, driving around trucks and hiring thousands upon thousands of workers to lay wireline internet isn't environmentally damaging? A little backwards thinking there.

The plan is to have the balloons floating around for some time, they're not going to be dropping like flies every week and need to be retrieved on a regular basis. This is the cheaper, more feasible version of your solar powered aircraft idea.

While apple created a "pro" desktop pc that is not upgradeable and call it innovative, google is trying to solve internet access issue in rural areas.

Apple never called it innovative. The specs are for pros dual fire pro graphics, and it is expandable.

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You don't remember the "can't innovate my ass" comment? Apple never said the new iOS was innovative, but they did say their new Mac Pro was. It is expandable, but not upgradable . It has thunderbolt 2 ports for expandable memory and whatnot. But you can't really upgrade the cpu and gpu to my knowledge.

Talk about innovation: Google SkyStation international, this ain't new and Google didn't think of it.

I completely doubt this is any good! I am thinking idiots will just simply have fun shooting them down! I think the better idea is just to come up with another solution as I am sure we could use reflective properties in water vapors from the clouds to act as a Catalyst Antenna to share wifi signals! Where there is no clouds we could use the natural microwaves from the suns rays with something from some kind of ultraviolet wavelength converter!

Now if you believe all that I said is possible get to it and start figuring it all out because I just made it up! :p

Those balloons would be twice as high as airplanes. How do you suppose people would "shoot them down"?

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These Balloons are supposed to be around twice as high as commercial air traffic from what I read. Good luck shooting it down.

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I love articles like this. It's a great way to tell who did and didn't read the actual article. Plenty of people act like some dude in the country is going to take one of these down with his shotgun. Good luck with that...

Most people either do not read or comprehend the articles on blogs, a lot of them are trolls as well.

Obviously there are tons of questions regarding this and if it is even viable but I must say the video is pretty brilliant!

They only wonder I have is how these will be stabilized. It would have to be some kind of pretty sophisticated propulsion that would use a significant amount of energy. The only other alternative would be a tether, but that would cause all kinds of havoc with flying lanes.