Feeds

Google launches broadband balloons, radio astronomy frets

A careless Loon could blind the square kilometre array

New hybrid storage solutions

Nearly the whole science and tech world is turning cartwheels at Google's “Project Loon”, Google's audacious “bring the Internet to the world using weather balloons” test that kicked off in New Zealand over the weekend.

As Wired notes, having flown to New Zealand for the launch, Project Loon came out of the same “Project X” skunkworks that gave birth to the driverless car.

The grand vision is to send hundreds – or thousands – of weather-balloon style craft into the upper atmosphere. Instead of tethering a blimp, these would be allowed to move with the wind, and steered by either lifting or lowering them into air-streams moving in different directions. At 60,000 feet (around 20,000 metres), they're well above air traffic altitudes, so there's no danger to passing aircraft.

The Google-designed solar-powered radio kit is designed to deliver “3G-like” speeds to users with a “special antenna” (sorry for not being more specific than Google is being, as the Chocolate Factory isn't returning calls) within a 40 Km footprint for each balloon. The balloons will also communicate with each other, and with ground stations to get to the Internet backbone.

Balloons will only have a relatively short lifetime, but they ought to send enough telemetry and GPS data back to Earth to allow recovery after landing so the radio kit can be dispatched on a new mission.

As this setup is relatively cheap, Mountain View has no trouble imagining this as a means to bring affordable broadband to the whole world. It's a feel-good don't-be-evil story placed as only Google can place stories.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.