Google reveals “Project Loon”, set to bring balloon-powered Internet to the world

June 15, 2013

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Google on Friday has taken its quest to bring the Internet to the entire world one step closer with the unveiling of “Project Loon”. Project Loon is another idea that comes from the Google X labs, and is designed to connect even people in the most remote regions of the globe to the Internet, via giant balloons that circle the globe at 60,000 feet in the air.

The balloons are made of polyethylene, run completely on solar power, are 15 metres wide and weigh about 22 pounds, providing Internet at speeds which are “similar to today’s 3G networks or faster”.

The balloons will provide Internet at speeds which are similar to today's 3G networks or faster.

Since the balloons will drift, Google uses “complex algorithms and lots of computing power” to ensure that “when one balloon leaves another enters,” meaning that the balloons are always where they are needed.

The balloons communicate with “specialized antennas” on the ground, simultaneously communicating with other balloons up in the air and the ground station, which is connected to the local Internet service provider, creating a “network in the sky”.

There is already a small-scale program running in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 50 testers are already connected. Eventually, Google hopes to have bands of these balloons circling the globe.

The idea is certainly a little crazy (which could be the inspiration for the name), but if it can gain traction it will fulfill Google’s vision of connecting the 5 billion people who still don’t have access to the Internet, with the rest of the world.

Do you believe Project Loon will be able to connect the whole world?

Comments

  • Guest

    wow!

  • Pessimistic guy

    This project is doomed to fail. Using plastic balloon is bad for the environment as the balloons WILL suffer accidents and land into the sea killing wild life. Also, countries with strong dictatorship WILL sure to shoot down these “networks in the sky” to censore the Internet. Stupid idea in history.

    • Renaud Lepage

      If we only did things that were not doomed to fail, we’d still be in caves.

  • tbro4033

    They should have saved this one for April 1st.

  • John-Phillip Saayman

    Would be super cool, imagine these ballons coming over you. Would love to see it, but it would be blown around quite a bit

  • harrold

    Ballon or Balloon?

  • Alfonso Corpuz

    The altitude they are referring to is the probably JETSTREAM level which no commercial planes pass (TOO WINDY). This wind is caused by earth’s rotation itself and the idea is not crazy. It could work. The balloons are not affected by weather (the balloons are above the weather layer BUT they can be destroyed by micrometeorites, meteorites, falling satellites and even spacecrafts. They can also be targeted by hostile nations by sending balloons that act like MINES- exploding on impact with some balloons too.But google has to keep on sending balloons to replenish those that fall or get destroyed

  • Ruzveh

    Its an amazing technology and a superb idea.. Salute to google.. This might become a game changer in future

    • Ruzveh

      Imagine able to surf the internet on those cruse, ships and aeroplanes. Imagine where all the hackers will now store their data? Imagine where will the cloud computing land?

  • 윌 스튜어트

    Good investment by Google. It would really be interesting to know how much they are going to charge for this service if it becomes commercial.

  • Dtect

    This is intelligent.

    It’s going to take a lot of thought to overcome the limitations, but… limitations never stopped us from trying.

    All the best to Project Loon :)

  • Sudhakar

    WOW!! Google provide Free internet service we know they are not charge for this service…

  • Seth Forbus

    Google never ceases to blow my mind. They aren’t selfish! Sure they might get some ad revenue from people in these countries searching the web, but it absolutely blows my mind the things Google thinks to do and acts on.

  • Mikesphoneandtab

    I really like Google. This really made me happy to hear. Keep up the good work.

  • Alen Siljak

    Reminds me of Iridium (http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1898610_1898625_1898640,00.html). Having bought (parts of; http://www.google.com/press/motorola/) Motorola, Google would have bought some of that experience as well, I hope. :)

  • Matthew Blackwell

    THIS IS THE WORST IDEA THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY PRODUCE.
    Thank you google your always by my side… literally. —>
    DO any of you even know the effects of wifi on the ecosystems or on your sperm count? I would prefer you not put balloons up in the air that radiate wifi above the most beautiful and untouched countries/territory in the world? Look at the dutch study on sprouts. GREAT IDEA…. great lets connect the world but when it involves radiation that hinders the germination of what gives us air … ill pass. I would rather breathe then see one more wifi hotspot. I may not be a scientist but i am not an idiot. Do some research. While were at it why dont we go deep ocean drilling some more..

  • Astridax

    Do you think they could drift these balloons over DPRK without them noticing xD?