Making a connection to the Internet isn’t always possible through a series of tubes. There are places cable can’t connect, like the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia’s archipelago. So, Google wanted to connect the people on these islands and give them the opportunity to connect with the world. Success would mean giving over 100 million people a way to opt-in to the Internet through their phones, and they would give it to them not through a series of tubes, but through a series of balloons.
Flying over 65,000 feet in the stratosphere — twice as high as commercial airplanes — will be balloons. Internet-providing balloons. About as high as Facebook’s own internet-providing drone. But not quite as high as Elon Musk’s proposed fleet of Internet-providing satellites.
In the video below, Project Lead Mike Cassidy talks about the progress Project Loon has made from a few test balloons to a fully operational network.
The balloons will fly on the winds in the stratosphere. By moving the balloons up or down from one layer to another, the control room can vary the speed and direction of the balloons; push them one way or the other.
Each balloon in the Project Loon fleet can provide internet connectivity to a ground area of around 25 miles in diameter. The team has partnered with local telecom companies in Indonesia, which include Indosat, Telkomsel, and XL Axiata, and hope to connect the islands of this nation using wireless LTE communications technology.
“The Internet is still out of reach for too many people, but we’re making progress,” Cassidy wrote in a blog post. “If all goes well, soon many more millions of people in Indonesia will be able to bring their ideas, culture, and businesses online. At that point, the sky’s the limit.”
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Photo Credit: MARTY MELVILLE / Stringer/ Getty