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Google's 'internet balloons' to improve coverage by next year

Project Loon aims to bring internet to remote areas by means of superpressure balloons that float in the stratosphere

29 October 2015, 9:05am
Google believes it is on course to have enough internet-beaming balloons in the stratosphere to form a ring over part of the world next year.

The move would let it trial a continuous data service to people living below the balloons' path.

The declaration coincides with the announcement that three of Indonesia's mobile networks intend to start testing Project Loon's transmissions next year.

Google suggests that Project Loon would be a cheaper solution than installing fibre optic cables or building mobile phone masts across all of Indonesia's islands, which contain jungles and mountains.

Sri Lanka previously signed a separate agreement signalling its wish to be another participant in the giant helium balloon-based scheme.

Google first revealed its superpressure balloon plan in June 2013, when about 30 of the inflatable plastic "envelopes" were launched from New Zealand.

Beneath each lighter-than-air balloon are hung two radio transceivers to receive and send data streams, plus a third back-up radio, a flight computer and GPS location tracker and an altitude control system, which is used to move the balloon up and down to find winds that will take it in the desired direction. Solar panels power all the gear.

The original set-up provided 3G-like data speeds, but the kit can now supply connected devices with about 10 megabits a second to connected devices via antennae on the ground.

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