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If I say, thousands of balloons flying 20 kms above the ground in stratosphere and travelling across the globe will provide seamless internet coverage to even the most far flung pristine places on earth which have not been touched by man so far, and will replace the mobile towers in future, will you believe it. Well, project Loon, a Google initiative, which was considered only a theory few years back, has proved it possible.
With tons of activities going online every day and billions connecting every next day, the reach of internet is unfathomable. But apparently, so many people are void of this basic necessity even today. Project Loon is Google’s initiative to reach these people and connect the world together more thoroughly.
The idea is to provide the connectivity to internet through an inflated helium balloon. The inflatable part is known as balloon envelope. A normal balloon can survive for around 100 days in stratosphere. Even though the idea seems impossible, Google has managed to bring it into reality. The loon balloons float in stratosphere around two times the height the aero planes fly. The balloon navigates by rising or descending into the stratosphere according to the current of wind. Connection can be made with the balloon network directly through LTE enabled devices. The signal is routed through these balloons to the global internet of world.
The balloon is filled with helium gas and sent into the stratosphere about 20km from the surface of the earth. The balloon consists of box like gondola armored with solar powered electronic setup. These balloons connect to telecommunications network via radio link and provide high cellular networks to smartphones and computers.
The balloon is 15 meters wide and 12 meters long made up of polythene plastic. When exhausted, the balloon descends the layer in calculated controlled descent. In case the speed of the balloon is out of control during descent, an attached parachute is opened to slow down its fall.
Each balloon provides internet through 80km area in its parameter. The loon works by creating partnerships with companies to share their cellular network. The balloons are the route that relays wireless traffic from devices to global internet creating high speed links.
Project Loon was started in June 2013 with a pilot test. About 30 balloons were launched that provided internet to few test pilots. The results of pilot test were used to improve the technology in the subsequent stages. Project Loon will soon expand into a wider loop establishing uninterrupted connectivity throughout the world.