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July 22, 2016

Google Project Loon Internet Service “Breakthrough”?

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Project Loon, the name of the project by Google designed to bring internet access to remote parts of the world received a boost with a reported “breakthrough” in the company’s ambitious project.

The project will be making use of a network of balloons floating in the stratosphere. This will allow the people targetted in those remote parts of the world to have internet access. Internet services to the remote parts of the world should ordinarily be possible only through very expensive conventional methods of providing internet access service.

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A project Loon balloon ready for deployment. [Image: Google.com]

The original idea of the Loon project was to have a steady stream of interconnected balloons circumnavigating the earth. Due to the relatively short lifespan of each balloon at this stage of the Loon project, each balloon is only able to serve for about 100 days. This means that once a balloon goes out of range, another will arrive as a replacement.

Project Loon researchers said it was now able to use machine learning to predict weather systems. The consequence is that the Loon team now have a greater control over where its balloons go. The result is that Loon balloons can now be able to congregate to serve a specific region as needed, rather than circumnavigating the globe continually in a uniform pattern, according to a BBC report. This is made possible by specialized algorithm developed to better control the balloons.

Initial Pessimism

Initially, this project was taken with some pessimism as the name “Loon” suggest. With its recent successes, it is fast becoming a viable project. Initial pessimism is now giving way to a project with the potential for internet access to places where cost initially made internet service access not feasible.

How It was meant to Work

According to an article assigned to Google in July 2913 by Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Josh Weaver et al, The idea behind Loon is to “deploy a high-altitude balloon network operating in the stratosphere, at altitudes between 18 km and 25 km.  Google asserts that this particular layer of the stratosphere is advantageous because of its relatively low wind speeds (e.g., wind speeds between 5 and 20 mph / 10 to 30 kmph) and minimal turbulence. Moreover, Google claims that it can model, with reasonable accuracy, the seasonal, longitudinal, and latitudinal variations in wind speeds within the 18–25 km stratospheric layer.”

 

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