July 7, 2013

Google's Loon Project Puts Balloon Technology in Spotlight


Google's Project Loon aims to bring remote parts of the globe online with a ring of floating balloons. The balloons will drift through the stratosphere—which is about twice as high as commercial planes fly—to deliver 3G service to off-the-grid areas.

The ambitious project's recent test launch on New Zealand's South Island has generated a lot of media buzz, but it turns out that high-altitude platforms (HAP) have been around for a while.

A decade ago, the European Union funded the CAPANINA project to deliver broadband from high-altitude platforms in the stratosphere. Back in 2005, it successfully produced broadband wireless access at distances of up to 37 miles (60 kilometers) from a free-floating balloon in the stratosphere over northern Sweden.


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