Even though I currently use Verizon Wireless, which of course claims to have the most coverage in the USA out of all the other cell phone companies, I still find places where my connection to the interweb does not exist. These dead zones are our biggest enemy in the fight for superior knowledge! They limit our access to vast information, they cause frustration and anger, they are the bane to our batman. So when will we have an answer to this persistently pervasive problem? Maybe the movie Up was trying to send us a message.
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In comes Google. How about sending out 30 balloons, no really they are balloons, which are capable of giving you comparable internet speeds to that of 3G. Google calls it project Loon. The balloons are about 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter and float some 12 miles (20km) up in the air! The great thing about this is that the balloons will be all the way up in the Stratosphere, above planes and above clouds and storms, safely floating without interfering with anything or getting lost in changing weather patterns. They are equipped with a navigation system which allows the balloons to either replace one another in a flight pattern, or continually sail in an area, in a sense guaranteeing a constant signal. The balloons took flight in Christchurch, New Zealand where only a select few were a part of the testing process. Cliff L. Biffle, a part of the project and Tech Lead of Flight Systems, says:
Having access to the internet can change lives and there are 5 billion people on the Earth that aren’t reached. Balloon-powered internet sounds positively mad, and in a way it is, but its mad in a practical way that could just work
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What is cooler, but could be a limiting factor for some, is that the Google project developed its own type of antennas to broadcast the signals so that the signal would not get lost or interrupted by all the other Wifi signals around. It could mean paying royalties to access Google’s internet, but you may be thankful for the access when your Google Glasses are recording the next big concert in the middle of a desert that you are exploring. In fact, are you climbing Mt. Everest and the Patriots are in the Superbowl? No problem, whip out your phone for a live feed of Brady’s game winning touchdown. Google has you covered! Literally. Bet you all those people in Maldives, Tunisia, and Belarus can’t wait!