Sunday Morning – What's Your Download Speed?
For those of you (and you know who you are) that are so attached to Facebook and other internet communities that you have withdrawal symptoms when you take your vacation retreat to the mountain cabin, where no broadband exists, there is hope for you yet.
In the not-too distant future there will be no such thing as "no internet service" in those remote locations where people now travel to get away from it all. You will be able to get away from everything except Google and Yahoo! and their camp followers if Google's latest secret venture Project Loon pans out.
Basically, their goal is to provide internet access to the 80% of the earth's surface that doesn't have it now because of their remoteness from population centers where the service can only be found currently. They plan on doing this by sending balloons aloft to the stratosphere that carry computers and guidance systems that will keep the balloon on course where it can receive signals from Internet Center and beam them back down to receivers placed in the recipient's location.
The balloons are designed to "float" at a 65,000 ft. altitude way above the weather and 30,000 ft. higher than commercial jetcraft. The big red ball that relays the wireless traffic is enclosed in a teardrop-shaped "envelope" that has a solar panel and a computer storage box dangling from the bottom. The computers and GPS system are powered by batteries that are recharged by the solar panels.
Very simply stated, the computers are constantly receiving weather data from the headquarters that tell them which way the wind currents are going and related information. Then they calculate and command the balloon to maneuver to the altitude where it will then float back and forth over the land area that it is assigned to serve.
Google has been working on this project for two years and they've gone public now because as outlandish as it looks, they have got it working! For their test zone they chose New Zealand that is remote from any unfriendly nations that could create problems for their stratospheric aircraft. They have had two successful connections to customers that are participating in the experiment and it keeps getting better as they go.
The Associated Press posted this capsulated report:
Wired eMagazine has very informative article that gets into more detail of their project with plenty of photos HERE. This may or may not become viable, but it has plenty of promise and will definitely cause some discussions in the day room. So let's get the equipmant checked out while I get more coffee going, then we can look into this a bit further.
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