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Google Loon – Balloons could bring the Internet to everyone

Google Project Loon balloon on display at Airforce Museum in Christchurch

Google have recently been testing balloons in the hope of building a global network enabling internet access and mobile signals around the world.

Called Project Loon, Google launched 30 test balloons in New Zealand with 50 testers trying to connect to our balloons.

Head of the project, Mike Cassidy, had this to say about it.

We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. It’s very early days, but we’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters. The idea may sound a bit crazy—and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon—but there’s solid science behind it.

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What would we do if the Internet stopped working?

In the words of Ron Burgundy, the Internet is “kind of a big deal.” Most of us use it every day. You are only reading these words because of it and we take it for granted.

What would be do if the Internet suddenly crashed?

Scientist Danny Hillis, during a recent TED Talk, said the Internet’s current population exposes a new vulnerability.

Danny Hillis Ted Talk

“The Internet was designed with the assumption that the communications links could not be trusted, but that the people that connected computers to the Internet were smart and trustworthy,” Hillis told Mashable. “Those assumptions no longer apply.”

“We’re setting ourselves up for a kind of disaster like the [one] we had with the financial system, where we take a system that was basically built on trust — was basically built for a smaller scale system — and we’ve kind of expanded it way beyond the limits of how it was meant to operate,” Hillis explained.

“Since this presentation, many people have told me those stories are only the tip of the iceberg,” but he has heard from people working on a backup plan.

“So, while I am concerned to hear that things are already worse than I assumed, I’m also heartened that smart minds are starting to focus on solutions. Like so many other infrastructure problems, this one is likely to eventually get fixed. The question will be just how much pain we will have to accept before we fix it.”