project loon

Have you heard of Google’s Project Loon? This project is a network of balloons traveling together in the atmosphere, beaming Internet service so people in rural and remote areas can get connected to the world wide web. It can also help people get back online after catastrophes and disasters.

This project was officially announced on June 14, 2013, with an experimental flight over New Zealand. Since then, it has already completed about 10.5 million test flight miles across Australia, Brazil, California, France, and New Zealand.

Check out the official video below to learn more about Project Loon.

So how exactly does it work?

The Technology

Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. In the stratosphere, there are many layers of wind, and each layer of wind varies in direction and speed. Loon balloons go where they’re needed by rising or descending into a layer of wind blowing in the desired direction of travel. By partnering with Telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum we’ve enabled people to connect to the balloon network directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. The signal is then passed across the balloon network and back down to the global Internet on Earth.

project loon
From left to right: Ririek Adriansyah, CEO of Telkomsel; Dian Siswarini, CEO of XL Axiata; Alexander Rusli, Indosat CEO; Mike Cassidy, VP, Loon; Sergey Brin, President, Alphabet Inc. Behind them you can see a half-size scaled replica of our latest balloon design, the Nighthawk.

The next phase of tests will bring Project Loon to Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia by 2016. This is already confirmed as Project Loon have already signed agreements with local mobile network operators – Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata.

This is great news for my family, friends, and everyone else in Indonesia. The country has a population of about 250 million and only 1/3 of it has access to the Internet. One of the reasons for this is that Indonesia is made of up 17,000 islands, making the installation & maintenance of mobile networks and towers a difficult and almost impossible task. Project Loon is the ideal solution to this challenge.

Here’s an excerpt from the official Project Loon Google+ page:

Currently, only about one in three of Indonesia’s 250 million residents are connected to the Internet. Stringing fiber networks or installing and maintaining mobile phone towers across the more than 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia is a significant challenge. Through balloon-to-balloon communication, Project Loon has the capability to transmit signals from areas that are connected to an Internet ground station and bounce that signal across a constellation of balloons and back down to even the most remote islands. In-flight testing, the Loon team has already been able to wirelessly transfer data between individual balloons floating over 100 km apart in the stratosphere, enabling local network operators to extend their Internet service into areas that are too difficult to reach with current technology.

The Indonesian tests will form part of the foundation for our longer-term goal of providing a continuous ring of connectivity in partnership with mobile network operators around the globe and, hopefully, bringing the power of the Internet to millions of individuals, wherever they are, for the very first time. Wish us luck!

Anyone here from Indonesia? Are you excited about having Project Loon coming to your country? What other benefits and uses can Project Loon bring to the people of Indonesia? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

[image source: Project Loon Google+ page]

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Owner and editor of JaypeeOnline. Self-proclaimed geek. New media writer and consultant. WordPress advocate. Loves blogging, gadgets, video games and sports. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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