Google Loon Internet Balloons coming to Northern Hemisphere2015-06-02 10:00 by Daniela
Tags: Google Loon
From its I/O developer conference held in San Francisco, Google has announced that it had achieved two major advancements with its Project Loon, intended to provide broadband Internet access down to remote or rural regions of the globe from a network of stratosphere-roaming balloons.
The project's head Mike Cassidy has also said that starting later this year, the company will conduct tests in the U.S. and particularly in the Northern Hemisphere.
One of the improvements concerns the time that is necessary for a balloon to get up in the air. Previously, the process used to take around 45 minutes or so per balloon, and Google was dependent on the wind - if its speed was six miles per hour or more, launching balloons was impossible. Now, Google uses a massive rolling apparatus, called Autolauncher (internally known as the Bird House) that allows a four-person team to launch a balloon in just 15 minutes—in up to 15 mile-per-hour winds.
The second news is that the balloons won't anymore need to be within range of a ground station to provide Internet. Now, the balloons can communicate with one another as part of a giant mesh network. Their range has also been boosted. This means that individual balloons can now theoretically travel anywhere from 400 to 800 kilometers away from a ground station and still have connectivity. With the new innovation, Google will be able to cover the entire region of West Africa using only about eight ground stations.
Though Loon is still in an experimental phase, it is expected that the project may reach commercial deployment sometime in 2016.
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