Technology is life! Say what you think or what you like. For me the above is true. Now, for those of you who might not already know, Facebook is currently running a groundbreaking technology that involves providing Internet access to areas and people cutoff from online access. It is estimated that about 4 billion people are without Internet access! It is impressive to notice that other companies and tech giants like Google are taking this initiative and implementing it in their own ways. This was how the Google Project Loon was born. As other Google products and services created; like the Google Calico project, created to challenge the normal course of nature and bring about better life for the aged. This time our focus is not on the Calico Project but on the mobile digital internet broadcasting technology.
A key challenge for Google’s Project Loon, which intends to use high-flying balloons to bring Internet connectivity to parts of the world that remain largely disconnected, is figuring out how to get the balloons to communicate with each other. Speaking at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco on Monday, Loon’s project lead, Mike Cassidy, gave some details about how this works, saying that the balloons use high-frequency radio waves to link up. Gimbals mounted to the balloons must be pointed precisely at each other—to within a tenth of a degree, he said—to enable one balloon to send data to another that’s 80 kilometers away. Project Loon, which was named to MIT Technology Review’s 2015 10 Breakthrough Technologies list works by having stations on land transmit an LTE wireless signal that is picked up by the balloons and transmitted from one balloon to the other. The balloons, which consist of a large outer balloon filled with helium and a smaller inner balloon filled with air, add or lose air in order to move up or down in the stratosphere; this lets them travel, since the wind that carries them moves in different directions at different altitudes.
Having a reliable way for the balloons to interact is important for Project Loon because it will allow the balloons to do things like spreading out to blanket a larger area with Internet access. Eventually, it could also enable the balloons to be more autonomous, communicating with each other about where one is or should go without needing to be told individually where to move.
Cassidy also said that the project will conduct tests in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres later this year; previously, plans for just a Southern Hemisphere test were known. In the Southern Hemisphere test, Project Loon plans to run several balloons for two to three days, which will let the team test the whole Loon system—from ground stations that deliver LTE to the balloons, to the balloons communicating with each other. Beyond South America, Cassidy sees Africa, where only about 10 percent of the continent has access to the Internet, as a big potential market for Loon, and he thinks it could be useful in India as well. As for bringing Loon to places like the U.S. that are already largely connected but could still use improved Internet connectivity, Cassidy says that will also happen.
“Even in my house, I don’t have a cell signal,” he said. “We’re going to come to the United States, too.” With the current attention towards mobile satellite technology, all we can do is be optimistic about in a very short time from now