The Bulletin

How balloons will help Google connect the world to Internet

Posting in Technology

In some parts of the world it seems like everyone is connected to the Internet, but an affordable Internet connection isn't available for two-thirds of the world's population, according to Google. The company is looking to change that, with balloons.

Project Loon, is an ambitious project that could connect the entire world to the Internet with a series of balloons circling the globe in the stratospheric winds, higher than commercial planes fly, at speeds similar to a 3G connection or faster. Obviously, that's not lightening-fast Internet, but for the rural, remote, and underserved areas that the project is targeting it's a good start.

Sound like a far-fetched idea? Google has already started a pilot project in New Zealand and launched 30 balloons last week.

Of course it would be costly to try to keep the balloons in one place. So Google is letting the balloons roam freely in the stratosphere and controlling them with just wind and solar power. Now Google is trying to master a fleet of balloons to make sure they're in the places they want them when they want them to be there. "We’re solving this with some complex algorithms and lots of computing power," Google said in a blog post. Here's a look at how the technology works:

Don't expect to be connecting to the Internet from balloons anytime soon. "This is still highly experimental technology and we have a long way to go." Google said.

More here.

— By on June 16, 2013, 11:44 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure