Those people living in major cities and towns are privy to having internet access via ADSL or via a mobile device using the cellular networks. But what do you do if you run a farm out in the middle of the Karoo? or if you are a game warden on the edge of the Kruger National Park? or if you run a hotel in the middle of the Drakensburg mountains ? Typically these areas have no internet access at all resulting in internet-isolation for the inhabitants of these areas.
Google has the solution.
Typically a small number of people reside in remote areas which doesn’t make it cost effective for telecommunications companies to lay cables or provide wireless base stations to such a limited number of people. It doesn’t make economic sense. Google has looked at the problem from a different point of view. They looked at it from the sky. If these people can see the sky, then special equipment could make a direct connection to a balloon floating high above the earth…and Project Loon is born.
Project Loon consists of high-altitude balloons that will circle the earth at around 20km above the ground far above typical weather patterns and airline traffic. These balloons will act as Internet providers and will allow people with special antennas on the ground to access the internet at “3G” speeds. Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40 km in diameter.
Christchurch in New Zealand is the first test site where 30 balloons have been launched into the atmosphere and 50 people are now able to connect to the balloons via the Loon Antennas and are able to surf the web. Some of them for the first time at decent speeds.
Whilst this project is in its experimental stage and we are far from having balloons hovering above every remote area of the world, I look forward to seeing how Google will develop and improve this system as it collects more real-world data from its New Zealand test.
For more information about this project head over to : http://www.google.com/loon