The Internet is one of the most transformative technologies of our lifetimes. But for 2 out of every 3 people on earth, a fast, affordable Internet connection is still out of reach. And this is far from being a solved problem.
There are many terrestrial challenges to Internet connectivity—jungles, archipelagos, mountains. There are also major cost challenges. Right now, for example, in most of the countries in the southern hemisphere, the cost of an Internet connection is more than a month’s income. To solve this problem, Google has launched ballons in air to provide internet to buildings on the ground.
About 30 of the superpressure balloons were launched from New Zealand from where they will drift around the world on a controlled path.
Attached equipment will offer 3G-like speeds to 50 testers in the country.
The company admits that initially access will be intermittent, but with time it hopes to build a big enough fleet to offer reliable links to people living in remote areas.
It says that balloons could one day be diverted to disaster-hit areas to aid rescue efforts in situations where ground communication equipment has been damaged.
The project is called by Google as Project Loon and acknowledges it as highly experimental.