Project Loon: Coming soon(ish) to an area probably not near you

Remember when balloons were something fun you got at a birthday party or an amusement park.

Now they are something a giant tech company wants to use to provide internet access to rural areas around the world. That giant tech company is Google, the balloons are called Project Loon, and thanks to a recent breakthrough, that goal of providing internet connectivity to rural areas is more achievable than ever. 

In IT Blogwatch, we search for a signal.

So what is going on? And what exactly is Project Loon? Richard Nieva has some background:

Project Loon [is] Google's attempt to connect remote populations to the internet by beaming down Wi-Fi from balloons the stratosphere...[but] balloons floating through the stratosphere are unpredictable, and anything can happen to them...Alphabet, Google's parent company, said it found a way to make the balloons a little less unpredictable.

And how are the people over at Project Loon going to accomplish that reduced unpredictability? April Glaser has the details:

Initially, engineers proposed that the Loon balloons would float around the globe...they would...find a way to keep the balloons a safe traveling distance apart and replace a balloon that drifted from an area that needed connectivity.
Now...they’ve found a way to keep the balloons in a...more concentrated location, thanks to their improved altitude control and navigation system...balloons will now make small loops over a land mass, instead of circumnavigating the whole planet.

But how exactly have they accomplished that? JC Torres fills us in:

The team serendipitously...noticed that balloons tended to linger over certain areas...longer than they estimated. Adjusting their algorithms and improving their navigation system, Project Loon was able to make that a more consistent feature rather than an accidental one.

What is the ultimate result of this discovery? Nick Gray is in the know:

Rather than deploying thousands of balloons which circumvent the entire globe...Project Loon can now keep those balloons stationary over a region. This development could reduce deployment costs by 90%...allowing Project Loon to be a commercially viable option for internet providers who would be interested in partnering with Alphabet to deploy wireless internet access in remote areas.

Anything else important? Mac Man has one prediction:

I can hear the support call now. [support] "Hello, thank you for calling Google, how can we help you?" [customer] "My balloon has gone down"...

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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