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Old 19-06-2013, 10:48   #1
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Google Loon = Internet on the planet?

The google Loon project was announced a couple of days ago. It intends to have Balloons circling the globe in the jet stream to provide people with internet who live in remove areas.

Read about it here: Google's Project Loon to float the internet on balloons - tech - 18 June 2013 - New Scientist

Maybe a stupid thought, but could this not also work for boats?
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Old 20-06-2013, 01:43   #2
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Re: Google Loon = Internet on the planet?

These balloons would at times be above the ocean in their transit between the land-masses. Therefore allowing participating boaters to use the coverage for internet access.

As their height would be around 20kms, they would cover quite a large area on sea with their footprint.

Especially in the frequency ranges used (2.4Ghz) which are near LOS (Line of sight) for wireless communications, there should be little to no interference on the ocean to increase the possible range even further.
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Old 20-06-2013, 01:52   #3
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Re: Google Loon = Internet on the planet?

hah great, now we have to keep watch for - ships - whales - and balloons!

"quick I see a balloon, check my facebook !!"
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Old 20-06-2013, 04:44   #4
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Re: Google Loon = Internet on the planet?

They say they need a ground station about every 60 miles to relay signals. So that would put the kibosh on real offshore use. But coastal use would have greater range than cell towers.

And I suspect that if they really get it up and running and saturate the stratosphere with balloons, they'll figure a way to relay balloon-to-ballon where ground stations are lacking. Eventually the range may be truly global.

It'll be interesting to watch this roll out and evolve.
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Old 20-06-2013, 06:15   #5
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Re: Google Loon = Internet on the planet?

Latency could be a problem with multiple relays between balloons, and therefore bandwidth would suffer, but cheaper & possible faster than comparable, satellite based services.

Can't wait! Just wondering if there is a site where you can follow the path of the balloons, or where you can at least see how many they have up.

I read they released 30 balloons in NZ, and they expect them to be able to stay up for ~100 days each (experts are saying ~55 days is the maximum). They steer them by moving between the layers in the stratosphere. Wonder why no-one has done this before?

Apparently, to keep costs down, they have some control over where the balloon will land. This is so they can collect the balloon and recycle the parts. Very cool.. I'm just trying to think of what they have not thought of, seems like a fruitless effort.

Of course, the only problem with global coverage is the fact that at the moment they have only figured this out for the jet stream.
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Old 20-06-2013, 06:59   #6
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Re: Google Loon = Internet on the planet?

With the 55-100 day life span of each balloon, and the need for hundreds or thousands of balloons aloft, it seems they'll run into huge operating costs, maintaining mobile teams chasing down balloons in godforsaken locations, hauling helium cylinders hither and yon. A constellation of cheap low-orbit satellites might make more sense.
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