Project Loon as a commercial project: the first contract is signed
Before the test run
About the Project Loon on Habré wrote more than once . It consists in the distribution of the Internet with the help of network equipment that is raised high into the sky. And lift it with the help of balloons. Thus, one relatively small balloon can provide wireless coverage for a fairly large region. Until now, Project Loon was pure research - Project X (a division of Alphabet holding) was testing the possibility of implementing the above idea.
But large companies do nothing for nothing - sooner or later we are talking about making money. So it happened this time - representatives of Project X signed an agreementwith Telkom Kenia about the start of work on the deployment of "air infrastructure" in Kenya. Actually, in the regions where the penetration of broadband Internet is below the usual level, this project was calculated.
Many regions of the world where there is no Internet are actually disconnected from the global economic system. The fact is that in the poorest countries of the world, many citizens do not even have documents with which you can open an account in a bank and open your own business (even with the prefix “micro”). There are a lot of such people - according to experts, there are about one and a half billion people. Total on Earth is about 7 billion, it turns out that one fifth of the population is disconnected from the global economy.
Solving the problem is not so easy if there is no means of communication. But if there is Internet and at least the most inexpensive smartphone, then a “disabled” previously citizen of any country can start to work (there are already services that allow you to identify with biometric data, which allows you to transfer to receive and send payments using cryptocurrencies).
Large companies often state the importance of connecting remote and hard-to-reach regions to the network. The fact is that this will allow not only citizens living there to connect to the network, but also external business to go to locations where it was simply impossible to work before.
One such company is Google / Alphabet. With the help of initiatives implemented by Project, she tries to find a way to recover the lost part of civilization. A start was made in 2011, when the company launched Project Loon. “Network balloons” launched under this program can rise to an altitude of about 20 km, from where they distribute the Internet. The area covered by the wireless network of one balloon is approximately 5 thousand km 2 .
It is clear that the balloons are influenced by external factors, because the atmospheric flows are active even at high altitude. In order to evaluate these factors, representatives of Project X modeled the movement of balloons, and the distance covered by them in such models was about 70 million km per day. This was necessary in order to determine the optimal movement of the balloons.
Over time, the design of balloons has been improved. Network equipment also upgraded. If initially they were 3G balloons, now they work with networks of the fourth generation. Trials took place, for example, in Rhode Island.
As for the operating parameters, they are impressive: in half an hour, the balloon can be prepared for the flight and after launch it will be able to hold out at a given altitude for about six months. And if earlier a whole team was needed to prepare and launch the balloon, now two or even one person can handle it.
Balloons were run-in in New Zealand, Brazil and Central California. Then they were used to connect the deprived of any infrastructure of the regions of Peru, affected by flooding and areas of Puerto Rico, through which passed the hurricane Maria. A total of balloons were able to provide connectivity for 200,000 people.
In Kenya, the project will improve communications in regions where even local mobile operators do not have access. Deploying network infrastructure in such places is very difficult, if not impossible. But for balloons nothing is needed - they can work anywhere in the world.