Google’s Project Loon internet balloons headed for Indonesia ahead of a global spread

The Google X labs set up by the search giant in 2010 and recently moved under Alphabet’s control gave birth in the past few years to a number of ambitious projects intended to break new technological ground in industries as diverse as artificial intelligence, neuroscience or health care.

But arguably the most well-known X initiatives are Google Glass and driverless cars, with Project Wing or Loon nowhere near as aggressively plugged in the media of late. The latter may however reach maturity far sooner than anyone expected, looking to expand to Indonesia in 2016 after trial runs in New Zealand, Australia and Brazil since 2013.

In case Project Loon fails to ring any bells, we have two words for you: internet balloons. Still nothing? Well, the concept is pretty simple, and while the execution sounds tricky, pricey and time-consuming, it could actually help bring people in remote areas around the world online for a fraction of the normal costs.

Consider this – Indonesia is the fourth most populous country on the globe, yet roughly two thirds of its 250 million residents have no access to the web due to fiber optic cable or traditional mobile phone towers being too difficult to install in jungles or on top of mountains.

The solution? Equip lighter-than-air superpressure balloons with the machinery needed to beam network connections, propel them 12 miles into the stratosphere, and hook them up to antennas on the ground. The balloons can be moved up and down to avoid strong winds, and base control will ensure circulation to form a united front over a given area as ample as possible.

The plan is reportedly to shoot up about 300 balloons to cover a section of the Southern Hemisphere next year as part of another Project Loon spread effort, and as far as Indonesia is concerned, the nation’s three largest mobile carriers are all game to test-drive the technology.

Sources: Google Blog, The Verge, BBC News

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About The Author
Adrian Diaconescu
Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).