In today’s world only one third of the world´s population has access to the Internet, this means that two thirds are not at all connected. Aware of this problem, Google began on June 2013 the Loon Project, which consists in bringing the Internet to remote areas.
The procedure of the project is based on launching balloons to the stratosphere (around 20km height) covering a 40km diameter area and provided with LTE technology (4G) to offer people Internet connection. This will permit the users not only to access but even to have a good download rate (theorically LTE has 100 Mbit/s in the downlink and 50Mbit/s in the uplink).
The first test was done in 2013 in New Zealand where about thirty balloons were launched. CNES (French Space Agency) was contacted by Google to carry out the flight analysis and the dvelopment of the next-generation balloons. The balloons will take profit from the wind to navigate throughout the stratosphere and they are thought to have a lifespan of 100 days approximately. Their flying height makes impossible the interference with commercial aircraft or meteorological phenomena, which was crucial issue during the conception of the system.
As you can imagine, the technology on board doesn’t work with magic so power is needed. This is provided by solar panels, hanging from the balloon, and supplying around 100W to the LTE system located beside the panels. You may wonder how the users can access to the internet if these balloons are in a remote area. The internet, even if sometimes it seems to work magically, also needs a physical infrastructure to work, so somewhere the balloons are obliged to transmit the information to a ground station.
In other words, the balloons offer people a 4G technology access and then a way to vehicle information to a ground station.
Technology is improving every day and so are our life conditions, the question is, will the Loon Project definately meet its goals and succeed to interconnect all those users who are to date deprived of the biggest source of information?