It’s not easy to install an earthbound internet infrastructure in the middle of nowhere. But the benefits of internet access for the local population could be immense. Expectant mothers could use an online app to gain crucial health information, and farmers could learn about the diseases and parasites attacking their crops. And it would make it so much easier for people to develop and carry out business ideas, for example, something that would be countless times more difficult for people living offline.
Project Loon is a research project run by the US company Alphabet Inc., that aims to supply internet to rural and remote areas. Using helium-filled balloons, powered by the attached solar panels, they provide the internet using LTE (Long Term Evolution, a type of 4G wireless broadband) technology. Anyone in the area who owns an LTE-compatible device can get online.
Want to know how the internet balloons are built, and how they work? Project leader, Mike Cassidy, explains in the video below:
And when enough of Google’s internet balloons have been sent up, up and away, they create an unbroken circle of connectivity.
The balloons were first tested in New Zealand in 2013. And Sri Lanka has been enjoying the internet access provided by the balloons since 2015. A pilot project could soon be started in India, while others are underway in the United States and Brazil, and soon will be in Indonesia too.
While that might all sound wonderful on paper, the project also has its downsides: they’re currently discussing whether the idea of the balloons was stolen from Space Data. And various researchers have raised a red flag about the radiation and their possible negative affects on human health.
This article was translated from the original by Hanadi which appeared on RESET’s German language platform.