Google’s Plan To Connect The World With Internet Balloons Showing Promise


Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is now confident that large swaths of land will see normally unconnected users receiving a signal from the balloons around this time next year.

“In one or several countries, you will turn on your phone and talk to the balloons,” Google X chief Astro Teller told Wired. “Yes, Loon will be offering service.”

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According to a recent expose in Wired [magazine], Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has made enormous advances in the amount of time that a balloon can remain aloft as well as other technical advances due to the company’s “engineering first” attitude.

100 days IS possible

The balloons when first launched in New Zealand last year struggled to stay in the air for more than a couple of days at a time.

“This is the poster child for Google X,” says Astro Teller, who heads the division. “The balloons are delivering 10x more bandwidth, 10x steer-ability, and are staying up 10x as long. That’s the kind of progress that can only happen a few more times until we’re in a problematically good place.”

One craft, dubbed Ibis 152 (Google uses bird species to nickname its balloons), has been aloft over 100 days and is still flying. An earlier balloon, Ibis 162, circled the globe three times before descending and broke a world record having completed one stratospheric circumnavigation in just 22 days’ time.

This flew literally in the face of Per Lindstrand, a balloon expert known for his association with Richard Branson and Virgin’s space program who said, “Absolutely impossible—even three weeks is rare,” when asked about 100 days as Google’s goal.

Google’s goals for this year

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) hopes to see routine flights of over 100 days over the next year with 300 to 400 balloons circling the globe at any given time.

“We’ve definitely crossed the point where there’s a greater than 50 percent chance that [internet service enabled by high-altitude balloons] will happen,” Google X project director Mike Cassidy told Wired.

“It’s not limited to rural areas,” Astro Teller says beaming over the possibilities. “Even in the middle of Silicon Valley you can lose connections while driving; large buildings and hills can block the signals. Balloons can fill in dead spots.”