Wednesday, February 20

The Internet, for everyone

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loon-logoIf you’re reading this, you have something that two-thirds of the world’s population does not, an Internet connection. This is where Google comes in. The search giant believes that a fast, affordable Internet connection can and will empower those who have access to it and as a result, Project Loon was born in June 2013.

One of the biggest hurdles for Internet connectivity, particularly in rural parts of the world is the actual terrain. Whether it’s a jungle, desert, archipelago, mountain or any other natural obstacle, they need to be overcome and Google has decided that balloons are the answer.

According to Google, “Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

The balloons will float in the stratosphere (approximately 20km above the surface of the earth) and for some context, that’s twice as high as planes and the weather. They will be propelled around the planet by wind and can also be steered and controlled to ensure they remain in the correct positions.

You will then be able to connect your iPhone, Android device or tablet via Wi-Fi and join the online evolution. The signal is transmitted via a special antenna and it jumps from balloon to balloon before making the journey back to earth to your device, whether it’s a laptop or any other Internet capable gadget.

At the moment there are 30 balloons above New Zealand’s South Island, serving the 50 or so testers in Canterbury and Christchurch, to help iron out any initial kinks before the project rolls out further.

The possibilities for Project Loon, especially in the developing world like here in South Africa, are endless. From education to research or just simple Internet connectivity, which could be compared to our current 3G speeds, Google is bringing the internet to the world.

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