Google’s internet balloon project just leapfrogged over another technological hurdle. And that brings Project Loon, the conglomerate’s oddball internet balloon concept, one step closer to delivering high-speed internet service to residents of underserved areas around the world.
The company announced that it was able to deliver an internet signal from a ground level link to a series of six balloons stretched across 1000 kilometers (600 miles). According to the theory behind Loon, what goes up must come down, meaning that the internet signal could be delivered to anyone living on the ground (and last time we checked, that’s where most people do, in fact, live) below those balloons. Eventually Loon’s vast balloon network will be able to bring internet to anyone in the world, no matter how remote their location, no matter how far they live from any terrestrial signal.
This is especially big news to all our rural readers who complain that no one offers internet service in their areas. Experts estimate that there may be as many as 20 million Americans living in those underserved areas.
For example, Diana, one of our readers, told us, “Hi. I’m trying find out if my area has this free or reduced internet services in Knott county Hindman Ky 41822. We have Thacker Grisbsy telephone Internet cable company that basically only services here.”
Anna, another readers, said, “I live in a rural and can’t get internet services unless I pay a for high-cost internet. I’m having troubles getting services for my home and that sucks cause I love the internet I web server all the time plus my bf needs it for his business for advertisement and whatnot so I think internet sure be look into expanding services for the rural areas.”
But let’s get back to Google’s technological accomplishment. CNBC.com reports:
Alphabet’s Project Loon just passed a big test in its plan to beam internet to Earth from giant balloons, successfully pinging data across a 1,000-kilometer span.
Project Loon makes internet-delivery balloons to provide access in remote locations, and “graduated” from Alphabet’s X research division to become its own independent business in July. The balloons rally a single connection from a ground-level link from one balloon to the next, while moving and diverging.
The 1,000-km, six-balloon feat is one of the venture’s longest links to date, the company said in a blog post.
“The thing about people is that they tend to live all over the place,” the company said. “If we can extend our reach by passing that connection across a network of balloons, like a cosmic soccer team advancing the ball through the sky, we can cover far more people.”
According to Google, and Alphabet, it’s parent company, Project Loon plans to launch commercial service next year.
That sounds like an aggressive schedule to us, but for the sake of millions of rural Americans, we hope they are able to deliver.