On June 11, Google researchers released around 30 test balloons above Christchurch, New Zealand to see how effectively they would broadcast an internet signal from attached radio antennae. The balloons, which reached a maximum altitude of about 20 kilometres, are part of Google’s new endeavour, Project Loon, which will seek to provide internet to the entire globe.
The first connection made to a balloon was by a New Zealand farmer, who said it lasted about 15 minutes, until the balloon he was connected to floated out of range.
Google says its technology, although young, carries huge, positive societal implications:
“It is [in its] very early days, but we think a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, might be a way to provide affordable Internet access to rural, remote, and underserved areas down on earth below, or help after disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.”
The company adds that the connection provided by the balloons would run at speeds comparable to those found on a 3G connection today. Google’s aim is to provide internet to those who currently do not have access to it – about two-thirds of the world’s population. The company has provided no timeframe for the project’s completion.
The successful implementation of Project Loon would no doubt usher in a new era of global human connection and would dictate our future in ways that we may not be able to fully comprehend.
Full article at Channel NewsAsia