[QODLink]
Americas

Google expands internet access with balloons

Google reveals plans to send hot air balloons to the edge of space to boost web access.

Last Modified: 17 Jun 2013 09:58
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The balloons refine the technology and shape the next phase of Project Loon [EPA]

Google Inc has launched a small network of balloons over the Southern Hemisphere in an experiment it hopes could bring reliable internet access to the world's most remote regions, the company said.

The pilot programme, Project Loon, took off this month from New Zealand's South Island, using solar-powered, high-altitude balloons that ride the wind about 20km - twice as high as airplanes - above the ground, Google said on Friday.

Like the internet search engine for which Google is best known, Project Loon uses algorithms to determine where the balloons need to go, then moves them into winds blowing in the desired direction, the company said.

By moving with the wind, the balloons form a network of airborne hot spots that can deliver internet access over a broad area at speeds comparable to 3G using open radio frequency bands, Google said.

To connect to the balloon network, a special internet antenna is attached to buildings below.

The Mountain View, California-based company announced the project on its official blog and its website.

The 30 balloons deployed in New Zealand this month will beam internet to a small group of pilot testers and be used to refine the technology and shape the next phase of Project Loon, Google said.

Google did not say what it was spending on the pilot project or how much a global network of balloons might cost.

Google has also developed self-driving vehicles, which the company says could significantly increase driving safety.

Those vehicles are beginning to gain support from lawmakers in places like California, where a bill legalising their operation on state roads was signed into law last by Governor Jerry Brown.

279

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.