Loon started in June 2013 as an experimental project. (Google Inc., 2016) The balloons flow very high up, higher up than airplanes and the wheather as we see it. The wind comes in different layers and this is what makes the balloons able to transport as to where it’s algorithm tells it that it needs to go. The balloons arrange themselves to form a large communications network. Each balloon can provide internet to a ground area about 80km in diameter through LTE. Telecommunications companies share their cellular spectrum, alloweing people to connect their phones and LTE-enabled devices. The balloons relay wireless traffic from the devices and back through radio-links to the telecommunications network on the ground. (Whitwam, 2016, pp.23-24, Simonite, 2015)
Google says it’s nearly ready for launch. Will it revolutionise the world? I definitely think it will help mankind a lot, being able to communicate and get information wherever they are.
I imagine Loons could be good to secure internet from being closed down in war zones or turbulent areas in the world. (Dubinsky, 2015) No militant group could easily shoot down one of these balloons when they can’t even see them. The base station that the Loon gets its internet from could be in a different country some distance away. In turbulent times, information and information sharing is “everything” at least very important. Information isolation has always been a way to control a war. We only have to look to WW2 to see how the Germans desperately tried closing down all radio links, and hand-written notes with information were transported by people who feared for their lives should they be discovered. I think the Loons can be very a important tool for bad times like this. It’s not easy to shut down. Of course, governments can try to limit what can be sent (look at China), but at least there is actually internet (and technology like VPN can get around sensorship). (Steinfeld, 2015, pp.8-13)
Facebook also has something going on in relation to internet for all, I might write about that sometime – but it’s not as grand in scale as Loon though! Loon for all!
Dubinsky, Z. (2015) For Syrian refugees, smartphones are a lifeline — not a toy – World – CBC News [Online] Available from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/for-syrian-refugees-smartphones-are-a-lifeline-not-a-toy-1.3221349 (Accessed: 10.10.2016).
Simonite, T. (2015) Project Loon [Online] MIT Technology Review. Available from: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/534986/project-loon/ (Accessed: 19.10.2016).
Steinfeld, J. (2015) ‘New dog, old tricks: Chinese censorship has moved on, leaving citizens battling to evade loopholes before they close’, Index on Censorship, 44 (3), pp.8-13.
Whitwam, R. (2016) ‘Connecting Remote Areas To the Internet-By Satellite’, PC Magazine, pp.23-4.