Google's Loon Balloons Are All Ready To Provide Internet Access To Half of The World

Do you know that almost 3.8 billion people still don’t have access to the internet on planet Earth in this high tech era? But before you get surprised to read the number, this is fortunately about to change - all thanks to Elon Musk’s Space X that is working on delivering internet from satellites that are set at 340 miles off the Earth in space and now Google’s Project Loon as well.

But Loon isn’t going too far as Google’s internet mission will be set 12 miles high up in the stratosphere with practical balloons floating in the wind at all times.

Loon is a Google sister company that is all ready to provide internet access to the subscribers of Telkom Kenya with their invention of 35 tennis court-sized balloons that will fly over 20,000 square miles in the areas of western and central Kenya. The good news is that over 35,000 Kenyans are already connected to the internet coming via Loon balloon without actually having any idea about it as well. They are enjoying smooth voice and video calling, web connectivity, and streaming videos.

With all the advancements, Loon balloons still seem fragile, especially what will happen if the winds don’t cooperate? How will the technology be then able to cover the service area?

In an answer to that, Loon CEO Alastair Westgart told that depending on the position of the balloon, a flight vehicle can operate as an alternative to actively serve users. The vehicle will also provide a feeder link in the mesh network to make the internet direct to other vehicles and make them reposition itself back to the particular region of service. However, other flight vehicles can still be parked nearby where they will wait to enter the service region and provide connectivity.

So, basically it’s all about connecting and staging all the balloons with artificial intelligence. The balloons know where to go and how they can navigate. But this wasn’t all easy at first since the balloons initially kept floating where the wind wanted to take them. After about one million hours and 25 million hours of flying, Loon’s machine learning navigational system was finally able to teach the balloon about how to ascend and descend to deal with favorable winds in order to maximize the coverage.

Furthermore, as also in the words of Loon chief technology officer Salvatore Candido the balloons won’t find against the wind at one altitude but instead they will move up and down to find a favorable wind current. Once the process is repeated over a thousand times in the lifespan of a balloon, then drifting on the winds will also become possible to reach different locations around the world.

Loon holds the capacity to launch a new balloon every 30 minutes and that one balloon will flat in the wind for about 100 days before landing. It provides internet access to 4,000 square miles which in comparison is 200 times more than that of a traditional fixed terrestrial cell tower. The balloons get charged by solar panels and users get the easy option to access the internet all on their simple LTE mobile phone.

For safe landing, the balloon deploys a parachute and glide safely down to the ground for the refurbishment process.

The Uplink speed of a Loon Balloon is five megabits per second whereas the download speed is nearly 19 megabits per second. The latency is also good with just 19 milliseconds.

But this is the performance of just non-emergency use of a Loon balloon.

Loon has also been deployed as an experiment in areas where the internet connectivity options got damaged because of a natural disaster. Last year, Loon successfully delivered emergency service in Peru right after two days of the big earthquake.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google and Loon believes to connect half of the Earth to the internet with Loon. So one can expect a future in which half of the population on Earth would be using internet with the help of cellular towers whereas the other half would be enjoying the smooth service of Loon.

Even if SpaceX makes its way, Loon will still serve to be a less expensive third option that will also provide a wider coverage as compared to the terrestrial cell towers.

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