Connecting the World Through Google Project Loon

Digi International
October 28, 2015

In a world where it seems like everyone’s online all the time–whether that’s via smartphone, laptop, tablet, desktop, or even via a car–did you know that two-thirds of the world’s population doesn’t yet have Internet access? In our hyper-connected world it seems impossible, but in many rural and developing areas, the Internet hasn’t found a home.

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While this two-thirds lives without Internet, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from having it. Connecting underprivileged parts of the world would allow for access to education, faster response times during natural disasters and better access to outside resources and key information.

A major reason for the disconnect is the lack of on-the-ground infrastructure required to create and sustain internet access. How then, can we get 66% of the world online?

Enter Google Project Loon.

Project Loon is an internet system designed to bring internet to the disconnected areas through a network of helium balloons. These balloons contain LTE-connection ports and can beam internet down to the earth about 40 km in diameter. By partnering with telecommunications companies, people in the ‘balloon zone’ with LTE-enabled devices can connect to the internet.

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Project Loon balloons also float 20 km above the earth in the stratosphere. Floating in the stratosphere is an intentional design of the system. Because the stratosphere is, well, stratified, it’s comprised of many layers. Wind travels in a different direction in each layer, and through a remote controlled system, Project Loon balloons can drop or rise to the appropriate layer to blow in the direction where internet is needed.

In addition to ensuring constant connectivity, Google also needs to ensure the balloons stay afloat. To track helium usage, they turned to the Digi TransPort ®  WR11. The wireless router allows Google to monitor the helium tanks and know when to bring a balloon back down to earth for refueling. It’s a system to provide connection that’s connected.

With this combination of keeping afloat and providing remote access to more than half the world, Google’s goal is to leave no person without the ability to access key information and in a position to receive help when situations arise.

With a connected world being our mission, we’re proud to be a part of Google Loon.