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Chocolate Factory plans Oz Loon trials: reports

Google cosies up to carriers for Tasmanian test

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Reports are emerging that Google is pressing ahead with its Project Loon, and has approached Australian carriers to test the balloon-based-broadband idea in Tasmania.

According to The Australian, the Chocolate Factory has woken up to the regulatory challenges it's likely to face in accessing the spectrum it needs to beam its proprietary 3G-like data services from 20,000-metre-altitude balloons to users on the ground.

Instead of sticking with unregulated spectrum, the Oz reports (may be pay-walled) that Google has made contact with Telstra and other telcos about its plans for a Tasmanian Loon trial sometime this year.

Neither Google nor Telstra would comment to The Australian on the grounds of confidentiality.

The Register notes that carriers would be unlikely to hand over spectrum access for free, since Project Loon would be a competitor to their own mobile services.

The idea of Project Loon is to use cheap ISM-band radio sets attached to weather balloons. These would be controlled by manipulating their altitude to find winds to manoeuvre the objects. The balloons are designed to have a three-month life, and include telemetry and GPS kit to facilitate recovery when they return to the ground.

Late last year, Google filed a patent designed to put up the “get off my lawn” signs around Project Loon. ®

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