Feeds

Google launches broadband balloons, radio astronomy frets

A careless Loon could blind the square kilometre array

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?