Project Loon test flight brings WiFi to dozens of people thousands of

first_imgWith a vested interest in the future of the internet, Google’s Project Loon is simultaneously one of the craziest and most logical things the company has ever done. With their pilot deployment in New Zealand, Google has used balloons to successfully bring internet access to places that would likely not be getting it any time soon.If you’ve heard Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt talk in the last five years, you’ve heard him mention how few people in the world have access to consistent and affordable internet. It’s clearly something that he cares a great deal about, but bringing the web to the rest of the world presents a series of wildly different challenges. These include political hurdles, economic issues, and geographic problems, depending on which part of the world you look at. Schmidt’s recent trip into North Korea was a step towards fixing one of those issues, and it looks like Project Loon is a step toward addressing the challenges of delivering internet to remote locations.Internet access comes from either a physical connection, a wireless tower broadcasting a signal over a wide area, or a satellite connection bouncing the connection from one place on Earth to the other. Each of these delivery methods has its own problems when it comes to working with remote locations. For example, if there are only a couple of people over many square miles, delivering the internet via fiber can be prohibitively expensive. Project Loon uses a series of massive balloons controlled by Google to deliver 3G speeds to remote locations.The best part is that this isn’t a crazy, TED Talk idea — the pilot for this program is now live in New Zealand.Using information provided by the NOAA, Google will control the balloons by increasing or decreasing their altitude to travel along predicted routes. Google expects to be constantly connected to these wireless hotspots, and expect that they have enough control to release multiple balloons in an expected flight path so users below can either can anticipate when they will have access to the Internet. Ideally, these areas will eventually be able to consistently rely on these connections.For those keeping score, Google now had a phenomenal fiber based ISP service, a floating WiFi service that can reach just about anywhere on the planet, and a dedicated hardware platform consisting of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearable computers.All Google needs now is their own mobile network to be able to offer a single user everything they could possibly need to access the internet.last_img read more