A test trial of Project Loon near Google’s HQ (via Google inc)
Google’s recent letter to the FCC is raising hopes that the internet may no longer be limited to terrestrial distribution. Google has been testing a balloon- based internet system that could provide ultra-wideband wireless just about anywhere. Their letter to the FCC focused on airborne internet platforms using high-frequency spectrums above 24GHz.
While it may take a while before the FCC parcels out frequencies that allow commercial entities to take advantage of internet via balloon , Google has erected ‘Project Loon’ to find viable methods of taking advantage of the future possibility of airborne internet. Of course, Google is also excited about the prospect of being the first to tap into this possibly emerging market: they aren’t an MNC for not trying.
For those of us living in lovely cities like Chicago and New York, Google’s Project Loon is not very interesting and probably won’t change your broadband service. However, for those of you living in rural areas, Project Loon could mark the end of your expensive and limited internet service days! It could also provide you with more choice than just one internet provider that decides to ‘rollout’ service in your area. If it works, balloon or drone internet providers could provide viable and affordable internet access just about anywhere in the world. However, I highly doubt the FCC would allow just anyone to launch their own internet balloons into the sky (at least not without paying billions of dollars for proper licensing first)... and of course, there’s zoning rules and stuff to worry about.
Considering that some citizens complain about wind turbines in their area ‘ruining’ the landscape, I highly doubt the public will enjoy a sky of peeping balloons anywhere near their homes. But Google thinks it’s worth a try and while I’m interested in the success of Project Loon, I’m also afraid of the future implications.
While Project Loon is using weather balloons at the moment, there is a possibility that they will use drones in future. Personally, in a world of anonymous hacking of cell phone towers, NSA phone and internet hacking devices on airplanes, and drones that have few regulations I’m not very trusting of the future of Project Loon.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Google spied on all of us using their ‘project’ so that they can calculate which stores we visit most frequently and sell our information to marketers. Of course they already do this online. Perhaps I’m too cynical... or simply disillusioned and disenchanted.
All the same, opening a new spectrum for the internet could help providers keep up with increasing broadband demands: offering us the same or faster speeds. Previously, Google has used Project Loon to bring internet to villages in Brazil where internet access is scant or non-existent. Their launched balloons were also able to circumnavigate the globe in only 22 days, and have continued flying for over 100 days in their project trials. That is a lot of global air coverage in a short period of time – astounding!
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