In 2013, Google launched the Project Loon, an initiative aimed at bringing internet to majority of the world’s population currently not connected. Project Loon uses balloons circling the earth’s atmosphere at high altitudes, which link together forming a network and thus giving internet access to remote and rural areas. The Project Loon was a brain child of Google X labs, that develops moonshot projects including self-driving cars and solar-powered drones.
Since launch, Project Loon has largely been a concept undergoing tests. Subsequently, Google has signed an agreement with the government of Sri-Lanka, which will see the country’s 21 million access the internet from the helium balloons. According to The Financial Times, Project Loon seeks to bring internet at speeds of 3G mobile phones, though the project faces technical obstacles such as navigating the balloons in wind currents.
The Project Loon is similar to Facebook’s connectivity labs, an ambitious project also seeking to deliver internet to those that lack it. Connectivity lab is developing a laser based system, by applying laser beams between drones and satellites thereby dramatically increasing the data speeds over long distances. In addition, to the laser system, Facebook also uses solar powered drones operating in high altitudes and capable of enduring longer flights of close to a month. The aircrafts fly at 20 km altitude offering users stronger connection. Facebook also uses low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites for delivery.
The project Loon pilot took place in New Zealand in 2013. Both Google and the Sri Lanka government acknowledge that a significant launch could take a year or two.
Source : FT