In June of last year Google unveiled Google Loon, a project that will use hot air balloons to deliver broadband and wireless services to under-served or emergency prone areas. Project Loon will use hot air balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, above the range of commercial aircraft.
On the ground will be stations set some sixty miles apart communicate with solar-powered radio transmitters affixed to the balloons, and Google will steer the balloons using wind as they ride the 40th parallel. According to Google, each balloon should be able to offer broadband connectivity to an area around 780 square miles — ideal for both disaster areas and locations where other options simply aren’t available.
At the TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference yesterday, Googler Astro Teller revealed that the Google X team had spent six months negotiating with “large companies” to buy harmonized spectrum but decided to use spectrum that’s already owned by telecommunication companies around the world. Google will lease the balloons to carriers as they fly over countries where each company provides service. The hope is that Google can fill cellular gaps with the floating cell towers that aim to bring internet connectivity to new parts of the world.