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Google Floats Balloons For Free Wi-Fi

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the shannon-hartley-bernoulli-theorem dept.

Google 115

New submitter BrokenHalo writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free Wi-Fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. They're calling it Project Loon. '[W]e’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.' Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."

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I thought that Loonies... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014567)

were Canadian dollar coins.

Re:I thought that Loonies... (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44014717)

AC is not a troll [wikipedia.org] . Off-topic maybe, but not troll.

Re:I thought that Loonies... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014757)

1) Women are sexual objects to be used, abused, and discarded by men. True or true?

Re:I thought that Loonies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44015473)

Better than the lame frist psot that often appears up top... Loon might not be such a great choice of name for this Google project?

tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014571)

i love how australia is a tag. but not nz

Tech specs (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014585)

Each balloon is 15m (49.2ft) in diameter - the length of a small plane - and filled with lifting gases. Electronic equipment hangs underneath including radio antennas, a flight computer, an altitude control system and solar panels to power the gear. Google aims to fly the balloons in the stratosphere, 20km (12 miles) or more above the ground, which is about double the altitude used by commercial aircraft and above controlled airspace. Each should stay aloft for about 100 days and provide connectivity to an area stretching 40km in diameter below as they travel in a west-to-east direction. [1] [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Tech specs (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44014659)

Each balloon is 15m (49.2ft) in diameter - the length of a small plane - and filled with lifting gases. Electronic equipment hangs underneath including radio antennas, a flight computer, an altitude control system and solar panels to power the gear. Google aims to fly the balloons in the stratosphere, 20km (12 miles) or more above the ground, which is about double the altitude used by commercial aircraft and above controlled airspace. Each should stay aloft for about 100 days and provide connectivity to an area stretching 40km in diameter below as they travel in a west-to-east direction. (Citation) [bbc.co.uk]

I wish that guy would get an account, I would have never seen his comment if it wasn't that there were only two comments (in the last half hour!) higher than -1. Far better FA than the one linked in TFS.

Re:Tech specs (4, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44014897)

It was me. I even submitted another version [slashdot.org] of this particular news item with those specs included, but someone else's submission was chosen instead. Ah well. :)

Re:Tech specs (2)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#44014767)

Helium? I think we are wasting so much.

Re:Tech specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014805)

This is not a waste. In fact, this is one of the most worthy uses imaginable.

Re:Tech specs (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44015223)

Is there any reason not to use hydrogen for this application? It's much cheaper. These balloons run unattended. They could be designed to automatically vent their hydrogen if their altitude gets too low. That would prevent any danger to people on the ground.

Re:Tech specs (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44015601)

Is there any reason not to use hydrogen for this application?

How do you know they are not using hydrogen? TFA does not say what gas they are using. So maybe they are using hydrogen but don't want to say so because of the idiots that associate it with the Hindenburg or hydrogen bombs. Thousands of people drown every year in a liquid that is 2/3 hydrogen, so there is no denying that it is dangerous stuff.

 

Re:Tech specs (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44016177)

Did I say they were using helium? No I did not. Why are you asking me?

Re:Tech specs (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#44017583)

Thousands of people drown every year in a liquid that is 2/3 hydrogen, so there is no denying that it is dangerous stuff.

AND 11,89%? :)

Re:Tech specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44019867)

How do you know they are not using hydrogen?

Several other articles, like this NBC article [nbcnews.com] , say the balloons will use helium.

I really wish Google would use another gas. We need to preserve the world's supply of helium.

Re:Tech specs (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44015683)

Helium? I think we are wasting so much.

The market is already fixing this. Helium prices are rising [bloomberg.com] . The primary reason for this is shale gas. Helium is a byproduct of natural gas production. Some gas wells in Texas contain as much as 4% helium. Gas wells outside the USA contain very little helium, making America the dominant producer. But America is switching to shale gas, which contains very little helium, and the helium producing wells are being shut down because they can't operate profitably with historically low gas prices. So helium prices are climbing, and frivolous uses are being curtailed. Disneyland Tokyo has already stopped selling helium balloons of cartoon characters.

 

Re:Tech specs (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#44017603)

Good.

Much better to use it for science and preferably only when you have no other option (well, depending on what the alternative is =P), seem so bad to just let it fly away into the air, litteraly.

In this case I guess the amount used is different whatever it's 15m diameter on the ground or at their final destination.

Anyway, I would feel guilty with regular ballons :D

Re:Tech specs (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44019787)

Much better to use it for science

Science uses aren't magically better than party balloon uses. I don't see ITER, for example, being a better use of helium than character balloons at Tokyo Disney.

Part of the point of having a functioning market with relatively competent buyers and sellers is to decide who gets scarce resources without having to make dubious and subjective moral judgments. As the price goes up, the more spurious demands will drop out. Tokyo Disney finds some other way to entertain its guests while ITER gets the helium it wants.

Re:Tech specs (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44020539)

The scramjet for one thing would not have got this far if not for using helium in the experiments (for many years on a tight budget). The gas used as the medium in the shock tunnel had to be different to the hydrogen used as fuel, but also had to be something with as high a wave speed as possible. That leaves a single choice.
With respect to whatever you know about (there must be something so someday please demonstrate it here), just about everything on this planet is of more importance than character balloons at Tokyo Disney.

Re:Tech specs (0)

nadaou (535365) | about a year ago | (#44020579)

The market can not fundamentally fix this because the market can not create new Helium.
The market can only slow the bleeding as the commodity becomes scarce.
The only way to deal with it is by humans deciding to regulate it, and taking measures to enforce those regulations.
Fish stocks are in a similar market-failure category, but at least after we're gone they will regenerate many of orders of magnitude faster than the He will.

Re:Tech specs (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014793)

Each balloon is 15m (49.2ft) in diameter - the length of a small plane - and filled with lifting gases. Electronic equipment hangs underneath including radio antennas, a flight computer, an altitude control system and solar panels to power the gear. Google aims to fly the balloons in the stratosphere, 20km (12 miles) or more above the ground, which is about double the altitude used by commercial aircraft and above controlled airspace. Each should stay aloft for about 100 days and provide connectivity to an area stretching 40km in diameter below as they travel in a west-to-east direction. [1] [bbc.co.uk]

Can normal 802.11 b/g/ac devices talk to a base station 20,000 meters away?

Re:Tech specs (3, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44015131)

Can normal 802.11 b/g/ac devices talk to a base station 20,000 meters away?

TFA says nothing about 802.11 (aka Wi-Fi) - it seems that was an invention of the submitter.

From the video:

The balloons communicate with specialised internet antennas on the ground.

Re:Tech specs (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#44016027)

I would imagine that you'd need some sort of specialized antenna to reach 20km, no matter what signals are being sent or what is encoded in them.

Still no mention of actual frequencies/protocols/etc

Re: Tech specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44018595)

Something I read on one of the Google sites says they are using the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz ISM bands.

Re:Tech specs (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#44020589)

TFA says nothing about 802.11 (aka Wi-Fi) - it seems that was an invention of the submitter.

No, it was in the title of the article I originally linked to. A few things got lost/changed in the editing process.

Re:Tech specs (3, Insightful)

Brianwa (692565) | about a year ago | (#44015763)

No, your laptop by itself couldn't, but the protocol is certainly capable of handling the distance if you tweak the timeout settings and have a powerful radio and a good antenna setup.

They probably wouldn't actually use wifi though, some of the cellphone-based standards are more suitable for this type of system.

To use this you would probably need an antenna and modem set up on your house, much like satellite Internet. It would still be a challenge though, I've streamed data off a balloon before and we were tracking it manually with a high gain antenna and used extremely slow data rates. They're going to be limited to solar power too, which limits their radio output power a lot.

Re:Tech specs (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year ago | (#44019099)

One of the videos I watched about this said the wireless service would be "3G-like", but gave no specs. It is clear that it is not WiFi as we know it at home.

When I read about this, I first wondered how it was going to play out with the effort of the NZ government to bring "ultra-fast broadband" to most of the country. That has been going on for several years and offers to continue for several more years before anyone can actually sign up. Even so, the government effort is only targeted at 75-80% of the potential users in the country. So much of NZ is remote and rural, that deploying physical internet infrastructure is a huge undertaking. After reading more about Project Loon, I realize it is not meant for NZ alone, but if it works it might be a cheaper way to have attacked the problem for NZ in the first place. Good luck to this effort. If it proves to work, I might well sign up.

They stole my idea! (1)

Chris Katko (2923353) | about a year ago | (#44014597)

Kidding, of course. But I did try and work out the logistics for tethered balloon LAN with RF / laser back in undergrad. I'm glad to see someone actually tried it, and it works!

Re:They stole my idea! (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44014771)

I see no mention of lasers. They sound impractical - how will you get precise alignment with a moving target over such distance?

you'll probably hear the telcos' screams (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44014637)

I heard about the balloons this morning and thought hey, Google wants as many people as possible to see their ads. It's good for Google AND good for me, I applaud this.

Re:you'll probably hear the telcos' screams (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44014739)

you'll probably hear the telcos' screams

Telcos? Who give a (sexual intercourse) about telcos, just imagine the scream at NSA when the traffic suddenly stops going through a backbone they control.

Re:you'll probably hear the telcos' screams (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014879)

NSA have their pipeline to google. Google probably do a better job at analytics than the average telcos.

Re:you'll probably hear the telcos' screams (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014777)

And great for the NSA!

Re:you'll probably hear the telcos' screams (1)

Absolutely.Geek (2913529) | about a year ago | (#44020533)

Well your NSA can just get the fuck out of my country!!!!

Re:you'll probably hear the telcos' screams (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014791)

I'd just like to interject for a moment. What you're referring to as Google, is in fact, NSA/Google, or as I've recently taken to calling it, NSA plus Google.

- RMS

The Eye of Google (1, Troll)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year ago | (#44014645)

Will Eric Schmidt allow one of those to float over his house? He doesn't like drones. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/apr/21/drones-google-eric-schmidt [guardian.co.uk]

Re:The Eye of Google (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44014721)

I think 20km up in the stratosphere doesn't qualify as "over his house" anymore.

Re:The Eye of Google (2)

cfsops (2922481) | about a year ago | (#44014917)

Some would argue that 20km or 20,000km above is, indeed, "over [my] house".

From the wiki article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_rights [wikipedia.org] :

"the Latin phrase Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad caelum et ad inferos ("For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.")"

In addition, the so-called "drone debate" has led to things like this: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/01/31/oregon-drone-bill-would-claim-the-airspace-above-your-shoestrings [usnews.com]

Re:The Eye of Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44015183)

Some would argue that 20km or 20,000km above is, indeed, "over [my] house".

But a 20km altitude, whatcha gonna do about it?

Re:The Eye of Google (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about a year ago | (#44020021)

Can the drone spy his house from 20km up in the stratosphere? If that's the case, then the fears of Schmidt about non-Google drones spying him are not addressed.

it cant be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014651)

http://m.slashdot.org/story/187503

In the end? (3, Insightful)

hedgemage (934558) | about a year ago | (#44014653)

Ok, I skimmed through both articles in search of one answer.
What happens to the balloons when they inevitably drift out of the intended coverage area and then crash? This technology is useful for a short-term disaster relief solution, but over the long term you're going to end up with a lot of balloons and electronic packages coming down all over the world.

Re:In the end? (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44014663)

What happens to the balloons when they inevitably drift out of the intended coverage area and then crash?

They know where the balloons are, and if they have spent enough money on lining the balloons then they will last a fairly long time.

Re:In the end? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#44014677)

Most will fall in the sea. Then they will get eaten by turtles. Think of the turtles...

Re:In the end? (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#44018749)

Most will fall in the sea. Then they will get eaten by turtles. Think of the turtles...

Wi-fi enabled turtles, hacking into through the Google backbone and taking over the Internet. You'll long for the good old days when it was only the NSA...

Re:In the end? (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year ago | (#44019125)

You did not read the article. The balloons have limited "steerability" in that they can be raised or lowered by signal, allowing them to move in differently-directed air currents at different altitudes. The plan is that when the balloon starts to falter, it would be "steered" over a collection center (multiple instances around the globe), where it would be "collected" and its payload become reusable. Sounds almost doable. In any event, there are not supposed to be lots of balloons randomly falling to earth, and they will not fall in the sea, either, if Google can help it.

Re:In the end? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014691)

Ok, I skimmed through both articles in search of one answer.
  What happens to the balloons when they inevitably drift out of the intended coverage area and then crash? This technology is useful for a short-term disaster relief solution, but over the long term you're going to end up with a lot of balloons and electronic packages coming down all over the world.

Evidently, you didn't skim enough. From TFA:
'
But using free-floating balloons introduces another problem: how to ensure they are where they are supposed to be.
"We didn't want them to go just wherever the winds took them, we wanted them to go where the internet is needed on the ground," said Mr DeVaul.
"You have to cause them to move up or down just a little bit through the stratosphere to catch the appropriate wind - which is how we steer them.
"So we have to choreograph a whole ballet of this fleet, and that requires some impressive computing science and a whole lot of computing power."
The balloons will communicate with Google's "mission control" where computer servers will carry out the calculations needed to keep them on track, monitored by a small number of engineers.
The software makes adjustments to each balloon's altitude to take advantage of forecast wind conditions, and nudges the balloons up or down to find a more favourable stream when the predictions are not accurate.
'

Re:In the end? (4, Informative)

ian_mackereth (889101) | about a year ago | (#44014701)

From Google's page:

A parachute attached to the top of the envelope allows for a controlled descent and landing whenever a balloon is ready to be taken out of service.

Re:In the end? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44015249)

Add a flotation device and GPS tracking beacon and they can recover most of them.

Re:In the end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014863)

As I understand it. Each ballon/ electronics package has a large pouch of refried beans. When someone on the ground finds the balloon down, they simply eat the beans wait, and then using the supplied attachment, refill the balloon. It's brilliant in it's simplicity.

Re:In the end? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#44014899)

They plan to sail the high-altitude winds to maintain a constant direction and velocity, forming a circle around the globe. Yes, it's quite a big project, but not physically impossible.

Re:In the end? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44015237)

It's cheap hardware. On average, Google thinks they will make more on the service to pay for the attrition.

Mike's talk (3, Interesting)

ZDroid (2938715) | about a year ago | (#44014699)

Mike Cassidy, head of the project, said:

"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."

- Guardian [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Mike's talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44017339)

More than a months income?

Man I thought NZ's ISPs were jacking us...

Looking over my shoulder at the previous article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014731)

*NOW* we've reached peak Google.

anonymity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014747)

Maybe these will be a great way to fileshare, post politically dangerous material or generally be anonymous on the internet. Would be pretty hard to narrow a person down in a 100km diameter circle (maybe bigger).

A Selfish Request (1)

wackybadger (2761133) | about a year ago | (#44014753)

This is a noble thing for Google to do and I applaud them for it. I can't help but wonder though, why they can keep doing all of this 'out-there' projects (wi-fi baloons, driverless cars, Google fiber) and can't do a seemingly simple thing like keep Reader afloat. It's difficult to commit to using a Google product if you're not sure how long it is going to be around.

Re:A Selfish Request (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about a year ago | (#44014885)

The cutting of reader had less to do with costs and more to do with pushing it's users into Google Plus (and Google Currents on Android). The simple truth is nearly any page that posts an RSS feed duplicates the content onto Twitter, Facebook, and G+ nowadays so the use of services like reader shinks more and more all the time.

Re:A Selfish Request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014969)

But i used to subscribe to my twitter feeds on Google Reader!

Re:A Selfish Request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014981)

Twitter and Facebook yes. But the vast majority of the sites I read don't push anything onto Google+.

stratosphere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014759)

Wifi isn't that powerful...

Re:stratosphere? (3, Interesting)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44014931)

It's almost funny how the summary claims that this is based on WiFi. It would be impossible even with specialized antennas and very high transmit powers.

Re:stratosphere? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44015277)

WiFi is short range. WiMax is long range. This is more like WiMax, if it isn't WiMax.

Re:stratosphere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44015627)

You wrote "This is more like WiMax, if it isn't WiMax." while I believe you meant "This is more like WiMax, if it isn't WiFi."

Re:stratosphere? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44016393)

WiFi is short range. WiMax is long range. This is more like WiMax, if it isn't WiMax.

Yes, WiMAX seems much better candidate at first blush. Although even WiMAX has a typical maximum range of 50 kilometers. Going up 20,000 km, on the other hand... I don't know, I think we're actually talking about something relative to satellite broadcasting technologies.

Re:stratosphere? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44016595)

If WiMax's range is 50km, that means from 20,000 feet it covers an 18-mile across footprint. That would just be from a single transponder. You could design the satellite with multiple overlapping beams, each designed to cover about a 200 square mile area. It would be pretty effective out to a range of about 20 miles. At that distance, multipath and coverage in valleys starts to become a problem. So one balloon could cover maybe as much as 1200 square miles.

Re:stratosphere? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44017343)

Oh, I see where I went wrong now. At some point 20,000 meters changed in my head to 20,000 kilometers! What a stupid mistake from me, sigh...

Re:stratosphere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44018035)

They are using 2.4ghz and 5 ghz unlicensed bands... There will be no "obstructions" from trees, buildings etc since its "line of sight".

They need... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014785)

69 more balloons, and they should be red.

Re:They need... (3, Funny)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | about a year ago | (#44014829)

69 more balloons, and they should be red.

I think that project is being run by Google.de

NSA Email meta data (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44014893)

I think I know what the NSA was after that yahoo and Google fought against. The email meta data on everyone.

Yahoo used 4th Amendment, i.e. it was American data because 4th Amendment defence can only apply to Americans.
NSA took all the phone meta data, and we know they had internet taps so they would be use to grabbing the email meta data too.
So they'll have forced Yahoo to hand over the meta data on sent emails so that yahoo to yahoo mail is grabbed.
Facebook would have all the message meta data grabbed too (Zuck' is probably lying to rescue his business).

That would match NSA arguments about meta data on phones, and explain why yahoo raised a 4th amendment objection.

3G? (2)

seven of five (578993) | about a year ago | (#44015017)

Balloon is too high for someone to receive a WiFi signal at ground level.

Re:3G? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44015139)

Indeed, and the article says nothing about Wi-Fi - the submitter added that in presumably because he thinks it means "any wireless data connection." TFA also isn't clear on how it's done, but one of the videos does mention specialised ground antennas.

Re:3G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44015213)

Not to mention transmitting any data back. Good luck with your laptop antenna and the standard 32mW transmit power.

baloons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44015317)

Smile for the camera.

Political complications (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about a year ago | (#44015499)

Imagine the tantrum North Korea will throw when one of these drifts through its airspace and gives the population unfiltered Internet access.

They're not the only place that would have an explosion over uncontrolled Internet.

Re:Political complications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44017551)

I'd be surprised if the general population have access to personal computers. Except for the elite it's probably non-existent.

Re:Political complications (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#44018775)

Imagine the tantrum North Korea will throw when one of these drifts through its airspace and gives the population unfiltered Internet access.

Pissing off the North Korean government is indeed a nice extra feature... we enjoy pissing them off, they enjoy being pissed off. It's win/win!

Of course it won't help the North Koreans citizens much unless they have a compatible antenna and a computer to attach to it, which seems unlikely for the forseeable future. :^(

Re:Political complications (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44020571)

Of course it won't help the North Koreans citizens much unless they have a compatible antenna and a computer to attach to it

A lot of phones have been smuggled in from China and they work within range of the Chinese phone towers. There was even a BBC story about a guy in South Korea ringing a relative in North Korea about an upcoming shortage of a type of sweet that's close to being a black market currency. That's a massive change from the usual information black hole (I know someone who may have living relatives in North Korea but they've been unreachable for 40 years, and even trying to contact them from China would have potentially put them at risk).

Re:Political complications (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44020551)

That's already starting to happen in areas close enough to the Chinese border to get mobile phone coverage.

design (1)

gedw99 (1597337) | about a year ago | (#44015565)

1. For energy they tak the water vapour and electrolysis it to hydrogen. Sthen store the hydrogen.
Being above the cloud line = tons of solar energy.
So the battery and hydrogen storgae does not need to be very big.

2. For altitude control just release hydrogen

3. for electricity to run the on board system just use a fuel cell ? Well its a bit cold. So i image they will use batteries.

4. For Moving left or right they COULD use some thruster. The amount of energy they are going to get from the PV energy collection system is immense so i see now reason why vector control thrusters cant be make to work. Mayeb even compressed air based.

5. The radio network with a mesh network is already solved. I imagine they could also use the "white spaces" technique.
In africa Google have been pushing to use the white spaces for this exact reason i suspect.
The downlink will then have enough bandwidth.

WiFi range (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44015857)

TFA doesn't specify WiFi though the ISM bands are specified. However, it's not impossible that it is WiFi, it has a much longer range [wikipedia.org] than you might think with the right equipment.

Re:WiFi range (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44016425)

The balloons are traveling above air traffic. WiFi is never going to be enough no matter how you amp it.

Re:WiFi range (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44016749)

Did you even LOOK at the link. I think 150 miles would be sufficient since the balloons aren't in space.

Re:WiFi range (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44017349)

Sorry for the wrong conclusions. I had mixed up the numbers a bit there.

Re:WiFi range (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44017099)

If you look at the photos on the google plus page, you will see that it is Ubiquiti hardware, possibly Ubiquiti Rocket M5 on the ballons. Even if I'm wrong about the specific model, Ubiquiti does not produce non-wifi hardware for use in the 2.4 and 5 ghz bands. Wifi can definitely go 25 km with line of sight, the right antenna and little interference.

Re:WiFi range (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44018221)

Wifi can go upto 120 km with the right equipment and even further! Do your research.

Re:WiFi range (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44016567)

I'm not exactly a genius on this topic but here goes:

I assume you can up the transmission power on the WiFi source (the google luftballon) for the transmission to reach the user on the ground, along with whatever gnarly antenna designs you people have. A beam like mentioned in the summary.

So I can receive the signal just fine, but how can my tiny dongle with a output of what.. 100mW transmit back to Google's WiFi ballon? Can a sufficiently sensitive antenna array pickup a regular wireless signal from the height they are talking about?

Re:WiFi range (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44016739)

TFA did mention specialized roof mounted antennae.

In my experience, a sensitive receiver can work wonders, but not enough to make a laptop dongle work at that range.

Google is Dead to Me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44016327)

Google sold out. This ain't Bob Dylan pushing Budweiser at the half time show type of sold out either. This is 300 million dead, concentration camp, secret police, reign of terror, no knock warrant, Men In Black, Star Chamber selling out. EVIL in all caps. Eric can stick his red balloons up his ass along with his creep, 'not at MY meeting' glasses.

Short Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and the rest. Remove their links. Take those facebook links and twitter links off your pages too.

mod doWn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44016605)

Yer, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44017761)

The temp nature of these balloons and the small coverage will not do any damage to established infrastructure. My guess is that it is just part of a mapping scheme for google and not much more.

You'd need about 100,000 balloons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44018005)

Given the amount of land surface on Earth you would need 100,000 balloons, or more. That is assuming no overlap and an even distribution which is not simple to maintain, so add another 50% on top of that.

However I like the principle behind the idea and I do hope that they have the funds and technical ability to make it happen.

There may be one unintended consequence that the DOD may not like, stealth aircraft are not designed to hide from radiation sources that are directly above them.

Google Eyes (1)

slash.jit (2893213) | about a year ago | (#44019111)

I hope they don't have high resolution camera's on board.

Google Cloud (1)

slash.jit (2893213) | about a year ago | (#44019129)

I thought Cloud Computing was a joke, but Google seriously wants to take computing to cloud!

Helium? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about a year ago | (#44019627)

Helium is a rare and precious resource. Whether party balloons or industrial balloons we need to ban the use of helium. Once it is used up we will be without it no matter how great the need.

Bloons under attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44019719)

Google had better be careful, New Zealand is the home of the company that produced the ballon popping game "Bloons"

Send forth the dart wielding monkeys!

And the first thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44020209)

And the first thing people use the Google balloon is to browse for __PRON__

or streaming __PRON VIDEO___

thanks Google.

The obvious question - economical for world-wide? (1)

daboochmeister (914039) | about a year ago | (#44020537)

I haven't seen any analysis of the obvious white elephant in the room (and don't intend to provide any, because I'd be blundering around in an area where I have no expertise) - could this economically replace satellite-based telco operations? What would the tradeoffs be?
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