Google’s Project Loon Internet Balloons to Fly Over Indonesia

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google’s Internet-Beaming Balloons Set To Take Off.

Google’s parent company Alphabet is preparing to launch its next trial of the internet balloons in Indonesia and hopes to create a ‘ring’ of the floating hotspots above Earth before the year ends.MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google’s Internet-beaming balloons are ready to take off on the next phase of their mission to deliver online access in regions where most people live offline.

Speaking to Leo Kelion at the BBC, Mike Cassidy, vice-president of Project Loon said: ‘We hope next year to build our first continuous ring around the world, and to have some sort of continuous coverage for certain regions. About 250 million people live in the country composed of about 17,000 islands in that part of Southeast Asia, although only 42 million have Internet access, according to the CIA’s estimates. Google’s 2-year-old “Project Loon” program aims to change that by transmitting high-speed Internet signals from clusters of balloons floating about 60,000 feet above the Earth. It is hoped it could save developing countries the high cost of laying fibre cables to get online and lead to a dramatic increase in internet access for the likes of Africa and south-east Asia. Alphabet frames Project’s Loon as a noble endeavor striving to get about 100 million currently unconnected people tapped into the vast reservoir of knowledge, entertainment and conveniences available online.

Working with French firm Eutelsat, Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite will provide large parts of East, West and South Africa with web access from the second half of 2016. But it could also enrich Google by expanding the potential audience that can query its search engine, watch video on YouTube, correspond through Gmail and click on digital ads.

Project Loon is still testing its technology, so there is still no estimate when it will start selling the Internet service to households and businesses within range of the balloons. The Internet access will be sold through wireless service providers in Indonesia, where there the number of mobile phones — about 319 million — outnumber people. But most of those phones don’t connect to the Internet because users can’t afford data plans, or more frequently, live in remote or rocky terrains where it’s impractical or too expensive to install the equipment need to deliver high-speed Internet access.

To pull it off, the project’s engineers must choreograph a high-altitude dance, ensuring that as one balloon drifts out of a targeted territory’s Internet-receiving range, another one will float in to fill the void. Eventually, Project Loon envisions dispatching its balloons to other unconnected regions in the world, ranging from small villages in Africa to the woods of California.

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