Jump to content

Google balloons, “cell towers in the sky,” can serve 4G to a whole state


RV_

Recommended Posts

They gotta be crazy! Crazy as a Loon? Perzactly!

 

Excerpt:

 

"Google’s plan to deliver Internet service from balloons in the stratosphere has come a long way since being unveiled in June 2013.

 

A single “Project Loon” balloon can now remain in the air for more than six months and provide 4G LTE cellular service to an area the size of Rhode Island, according to Google. Company officials have taken to calling Loon balloons “cell towers in the sky.”

 

While there’s no announced date for a widespread service launch, Google has provided Internet to a school in Brazil and is partnering with cellular operators Vodafone New Zealand, Telstra in Australia, and Telefónica in Latin America.

 

The US probably won’t be the first place Loon powers a commercial service. Google is aiming to get more people in developing countries on the Internet (and that’s good for Google’s business, since a lot of those people will use Google services).

 

“For some countries, having Internet once a day for an hour is a huge deal,” Google software engineer Johan Mathe, who plays a key role designing Loon’s navigation system, told Ars in a phone interview last week.

Rather than offer Internet service itself as it does with Google Fiber, Google’s Project Loon is building technology that can integrate with the networks run by cellular operators. Telco operators can send signals from existing cell towers to Google’s balloons, and then the balloons send the signals down to smartphones and other cellular-connected devices. While Google says one balloon can cover an area the size of Rhode Island, the coverage area is really bigger than that because one balloon can send its signal to another balloon, which can then send Internet signals down to the ground. (A single balloon can cover an 80 km [49.7 miles] diameter. Rhode Island is 77 km [47.8 miles] north to south and 59.5 km [37 miles] east to west.)

 

“The main cost gain comes from the fact that you can cover a much bigger region with existing infrastructure,” Google told Ars. “Telcos take their preexisting infrastructure, point them to the sky, and they get a much broader coverage. For instance, if you already have towers to cover a city, you can point part of it to the sky, and you will be able to cover the whole region through the loon balloon network.”

 

More details and pictures in the full article here: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/03/google-balloons-cell-towers-in-the-sky-can-serve-4g-to-a-whole-state/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_board

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a proposal once for South Dakota to release cellular radio balloons on one side of the state, let the prevailing winds blow the balloons across the state,at the other side, the balloons would either be deflated or the payload dropped. There would ba a finders fee for those who round up the dropped packages.

 

The cost would be less than the number of towers to cover the sparsely populated state.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would be interesting to see the backhaul capabilities of a balloon covering the state of Rhode Island. Might also be interesting to see the battery life of a phone operating at the extreme edge of coverage - got to be a drag on the phone's transmitter...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got the impression that these balloons would need to stay in one location at altitude in order to be useful. Or am I wrong? How would they do station keeping if it's to stay in one place over a target area. Are they solar powered with batteries for night? It sure sounds like an interesting idea.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that interference issues would be pretty severe. In order to make this work you'd need a LOT of bandwidth. Even in areas with high mountains they typically don't put cell towers on them. They do put the backhaul towers there, though.

 

I agree with the aviation issues. A balloon would have to be pretty big to be seen at 3,000 feet from an airplane.

 

WDR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think all of our questions will be answered in the next year on several fronts. Project Loon is one of several broadband from the sky plans in R&D now funded such that they are intended to launch into service. Google is involved and funding three. Google Fiber, Google Loon, and since they have no rockets of their own they have gotten together with Elon Musk to launch LEO mini SATs to do the same thing.

 

Google and Fidelity announced they are backing Musk's SpaceX with a Billion dollars towards erecting a money making LEO world communications satellite spread that will eventually cover all of the populated areas of the world. The latency, or signal transit time perceived delay for LEO, is actually the same or less than ground based cell systems I've read in the tech press. These are completely different from GEO orbits many times higher that have long transit times making their latency unacceptable for voice or fast reaction games. Some adapted and find no issue. But my hesitation is because they can and do slow at peak use to near dial up speeds.

 

The deal was sealed last January. If you misuse the details it's here: http://www.space.com/28316-spacex-elon-musk-google-fidelity-investment.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...