Project Loon also known as Google Loon or Google Balloon Internet is an experimental project run by Google Inc. with the aim of delivering internet access to remote areas. The project makes use of wind-steered balloons floating in the stratosphere at 25 km above sea level. These balloons are scattered in the air and spaced at approximately 100km from each other, thereby creating a wireless network that provides internet to people in the area.
Project Loon was launched on 16 June 2013, beginning a series of research tests in New Zealand and now Carlifornia, USA.Should the project be successful, Google will launch the balloon network enmasse, launching thousands of balloons around the world over remote areas and places where internet is currently inaccessible.
The balloons help to transmit the signals between the worldwide web and an antenna installed outside the user’s home or building. You may be wondering why somebody would need a balloon-powered internet network when there are technologies like Wimax that can transmit internet to remote areas via a space satellite. Current technologies which provide internet to remote areas e.g. farms and rural areas are very expensive often costing several times more than services in cities and towns .A lot of money is required to set up the infrastructure for long-distance transmissions of data. Google balloon internet will cut the cost of internet as we know it today and increase coverage, allowing more people to get connected.
Balloon networks are easy to deploy and less expensive to manage because they do not require the installation of underground cables. The cost of fiber cable is one of the prohibitive factors that hinders the expansion of internet access in developing countries. Developing countries will benefit immensely from balloon-powered internet and this will allow at least 66% of the world population to have access to the internet.
With Google providing the technology to deploy balloon internet, existing internet service providers will only need to connect to the balloon network to allow people to be connected. This will drastically reduce the cost of internet and make it affordable to people under the balloon region. Users will be required to install a special antenna in order to receive signals.
The floating balloons are designed to last for at least 100 days and they are equipped with a solar-powered electronics system that can generate a maximum of 100 watts in full sunlight. The Google internet balloons will float at a minimum height of 15km above the jet airspace, meaning that there won’t be a risk of an accidental collision with airplanes. The estimated speed for balloon internet is nearly that of 3G internet, which is quite acceptable.