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Google Australia Networking Wireless Networking

Google Floats Balloons For Free Wi-Fi 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the shannon-hartley-bernoulli-theorem dept.
New submitter BrokenHalo writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free Wi-Fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. They're calling it Project Loon. '[W]e’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters.' Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."
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Google Floats Balloons For Free Wi-Fi

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  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Saturday June 15, 2013 @09:49AM (#44014637) Homepage Journal

    I heard about the balloons this morning and thought hey, Google wants as many people as possible to see their ads. It's good for Google AND good for me, I applaud this.

  • In the end? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hedgemage (934558) on Saturday June 15, 2013 @09:54AM (#44014653)
    Ok, I skimmed through both articles in search of one answer.
    What happens to the balloons when they inevitably drift out of the intended coverage area and then crash? This technology is useful for a short-term disaster relief solution, but over the long term you're going to end up with a lot of balloons and electronic packages coming down all over the world.
  • Re:Tech specs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brianwa (692565) <> on Saturday June 15, 2013 @01:40PM (#44015763)

    No, your laptop by itself couldn't, but the protocol is certainly capable of handling the distance if you tweak the timeout settings and have a powerful radio and a good antenna setup.

    They probably wouldn't actually use wifi though, some of the cellphone-based standards are more suitable for this type of system.

    To use this you would probably need an antenna and modem set up on your house, much like satellite Internet. It would still be a challenge though, I've streamed data off a balloon before and we were tracking it manually with a high gain antenna and used extremely slow data rates. They're going to be limited to solar power too, which limits their radio output power a lot.

The "cutting edge" is getting rather dull. -- Andy Purshottam