What is Google’s Project Loon?
Started of 2013, Project Loon (Google’s Balloon Internet Service) had run its experimental pilot in several countries such as New Zealand, California (the US), northeast Brazil etc.
The Google Project Loon is a sensational new idea from Google, which promises to provide internet access to the distant and isolated regions of the world that do not have an internet infrastructure. Essentially, Google’s Project Loon consists of 300 or more internet beaming balloons that float in the stratosphere and form a ring over a part of the world.
The goal behind Google Project Loon is to provide a continuous data service to all the people living below the balloon’s path. So far, Project Loon has been launched in Indonesia, with three of the country’s mobile networks agreeing to participate in the project and to test the transmissions.
Googles Project Loon is one of the greatest technological innovations to have come out over the last decade and a half and it holds rich promise. There are many regions in the world that have low population density. Google’s Project Loon aims to provide internet coverage to them and to complement the existing networks.
As Chris Green, a tech consultant explains, “Any country that is struggling to get cabled or land-based wireless infrastructure out to its extreme edges will see satellites or other sky-based internet delivery mechanisms as a viable solution. What may initially seem like a complex delivery method could end up being a very innovative solution to a very difficult problem to solve at ground level.”
So what does Project Loon actually consist of? Well, it consists of several superpressure balloons with each containing the following…
- 2 radio transceivers that receive and send data streams and a back-up radio
- 1 flight computer
- A GPS location tracker
- An altitude control system, the purpose of which is to move the balloon up and down, so as to navigate the balloons in the desired direction.
- Solar panels that power all the equipment
Project Loon offers 4G like data speeds of 10 megabits per second to the areas under its coverage. It stays in the air for 187 days at a stretch and can be launched in just 15 minutes using an automated crane. It requires the combined effort of just 2 or 3 people to launch each balloon.
The idea is to have 300 or more balloons so as to form a continuous string around the world, so that as one balloon moves out of range because of the wind, another comes and takes its place. The goal is to provide continuous internet coverage to the isolated areas of the world.
The interesting thing is that Google is already considering other options to provide internet coverage to the far flung areas of the world, such as solar-paneled drones. This project has been codenamed as “Titan” and promises to be just as revolutionary as Googles Project Loon. In fact, Facebook too is developing a drone-based scheme to provide internet coverage to the unconnected regions of the world.
Availability and Advantages of google project loon
Sri Lanka has signed an agreement to join Project Loon as well. Also, the Sri Lankan government had announced buying a 25% stake in a joint venture with Google.
Google’s Project Loon was first launched in New Zealand and promises to be a much more affordable alternative to installing fiber optic cables all around the world, or building mobile phone masts in the far flung areas of the world, such as the jungles and mountains of Indonesia.
Project Loon is of a particular benefit to a country like Indonesia, and will in future be beneficial to much of Africa and India because it aims to provide internet access to the vast majority of the populations in these regions (such as 100 million out of Indonesia’s population of 255 million), that are even today unconnected to any network.
Last year, Google had announced expansion of its Project Loon in India. Google’s ambitious plan to provide Internet connections using high-altitude balloons, had hit several hurdles in India. According to an Economic Times report, Google’s Project Loon would be given a four-day window to conduct its tests in India. The location for the pilot tests are expected to be in the States of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Some of the months of discussions with the Indian government, Google seems to be finally getting closer to roll out its Project Loon in India.
As Google says in its blog, “From Sabang all the way to Merauke, many of these people live in areas without any existing internet infrastructure, so we hope Google’s project loon balloon-powered internet could someday help give them access to the information and opportunity of the web.”
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