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Broadband Barrage Balloons

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the moon-over-my-hammy dept.

The Internet 287

alnya writes "BBC Online are reporting a story of a York-based company called SkyLinc who are floating baloons connected to a fibre optic pole which, they say, can deliver broadband access at "more than double the speed of most broadband services currently available" - whatever that means. Only 18 balloons would be necessarily to blow BT out the water (according to the article). Is this on the horizon?"

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287 comments

Olde Idea (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040531)

We used to use weather balloons for field day. It's ok, until a good wind kicks up.

but I left the hot air comment for someone else! (4, Funny)

sweeney37 (325921) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040532)

in other news Steve Case [go.com] is no longer the largest windbag in broadband.

Mike

Newest DOS attack (5, Funny)

Exiler (589908) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040533)

Pellet gun.

RTFA! (2, Informative)

Anti Frozt (655515) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040557)

According to the article, the ballons would be 1.5 Km above the Earth's surface. Good luck finding a high-powered rifle, let alone a pellet gun, that would be able to accurately hit one of these ballons.

Re:RTFA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040584)

Just when you thought you met the person with the worst sense of humor ever... Anti Frozt comes along.

(Posting anonymously because I moderated the original post as funny, and don't want that to go away.)

Re:RTFA! (-1, Offtopic)

Exiler (589908) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040590)

Could I have been *gasp* joking? The first mod was dead on with the +1 funny, don't blame me for the idiot that hit insightful.

Re:RTFA! (-1, Offtopic)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040669)

No, the first mod wasn't dead on. The comment wasn't particularly funny. Judging by all the other unoriginal comments along the same line, it was pretty dumb.

Re:RTFA! (0, Offtopic)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040741)

Ahhh, flamebait and offtopic. No more offtopic than the parent post mind you, but then I'm the bad guy in this situation. ;) Aren't the moderators just so over-sensitive and pollitically correct? Pathetic. Sorry, but dumb comments masquerading as poor humour are a waste of space, and the fact that it was moderated up reflects poorly on the moderators and their intelligence. People need to engage their brains before writing such comments.

Now moderate away and knock this down to -1 too. What a bunch of cliquey geeks worrying about some dumb person's feelings!

Re:RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040745)

Based on your illustrious history of posts at 1 and lack of excellent karma, I am going to have to preemptively disqualify you from membership with Mensa.

Oh yeah, and shut the fuck up, whiner.

Re:RTFA! (4, Funny)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040599)

I live in York, UK, and I believe the Accuracy International Artic Warfare (Super) Magnum sniper rifle in 7.62mm could bring one down.

Heh heh.

graspee

Re:RTFA! (5, Funny)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040637)

Mod me down for I am wrong! Apparently the AI arctic warfare in 7.62 has a max range of 800m, and even in larger cal can only go to 1100m. This is the "last 400m" problem in modern telecommunication sniping.

I am now looking into larger calibre rifles, like .50. Will update you when I find one that can go the full 1500m...

graspee

Re:RTFA! (5, Funny)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040678)

Ah! The Accuracy International AW50, which uses massive .50 cal has a max effective range of 2000m!

I just thought that a British rifle should be used- it's more appropriate; support local industry and all that.

Apologies for splattering this forum with my gun geekiness- you may now mod me into oblivion and beyond.

graspee

Re:RTFA! (4, Interesting)

Enonu (129798) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040691)

Are you taking into account that'd you be firing these rifles straight up rather than simply over land at sea level?

Re:RTFA! (5, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040668)

A 150 grain bullet from a 30-06 rifle can reach 9330 feet (2844 meters) when fired straight up. Julian Hatcher, who became the Chief of Ordinance for the U.S. Army in World War II, investigated this and many other ballistics questions.

Re:RTFA! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040675)



According to the article, the ballons would be 1.5 Km above the Earth's surface. Good luck finding a high-powered rifle, let alone a pellet gun, that would be able to accurately hit one of these ballons.

Easy.

You insert some BBs into your penis. Then you browse the web for porn, and when you're about the cum aim your penis at the balloons. You'll shoot those BBs 2 miles at least. DO NOT aim towards your monitor or your eyes!

Re:Newest DOS attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040558)

But a company called SkyLinc has found a happy medium in base stations, floating 1.5km above the surface of the Earth on balloons

well, it'd need to be a pretty powerfull pellet gun, i guess

Re:Newest DOS attack (1)

McAddress (673660) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040614)

forget the pellet guns.

remember the Hindenburg.

Re:Newest DOS attack (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040656)

It contained flamable gas, and was coated with flamable paint. How is that relevant?

Re:Newest DOS attack (0, Offtopic)

randyest (589159) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040585)

before this gets out of hand (there's already 3 or 4 references to pellet guns, bb guns, etc., and this one is modded up insightful), please rtfa and make your jokes reasonable.

or show me the pellet gun with a range of 1.5km.

you know, I can understand the jokesters trying to get in fast without reading the fine article, but why are the mods so anxious to mod something up as insightful, when they haven't taken the time to learn if it really is or not?

Re:Newest DOS attack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040630)


Randy, you are just bitter because I said I wouldn't cum in your mouth last night, and I did. I also said I wouldn't make your mom lick your shit off my dick, and I did that too. I also didn't tell you that your dad was watching me anally rape you while he masturbated behind a one-way mirror.

So we can all understand why you're in a bitchy mood today, cunt.

Re:Newest DOS attack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040663)

Real nice. Think that up all by yourself?? Quite a wit.

Meanwhile, on an airplane... (1)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040677)

Wireless Surfer:
Hey... hey, my download speed's really getting quite good now... whoa, 5 MB/sec! Wow! This is unbelievable! This--hey, what's that? Hey, look out! Look--

baloony (2, Funny)

Miguel de Icaza (660439) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040536)

this story is just a load of hot air

Re:baloony (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040556)

you're an ASSHOLE now go give Bill a rimjob, PRICK TWAT CUNT MONKEYBOY WHORE

Memorial Day (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040537)

What the hell are you assholes doing reading Slashdot? Have you at least been to any parades to honor our war dead?

You unpatriotic fucks.

Re:Memorial Day (-1, Offtopic)

Tukz (664339) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040553)

Actually i'm not american and don't have the slightest idea of what Memorial Day is about. So leave me out of it ;)

Re:Memorial Day (-1, Offtopic)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040596)

"...the slightest idea of what Memorial Day is..."

I used to, but I forgot.

Re:Memorial Day (1)

vaguelyamused (535377) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040629)

It stems from Decoration Day, originally a Confederate holiday during which the graves of those fallen in combat were visited and decorated.

Re:Memorial Day (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040567)

We honour our war dead on Remembrance Day, November 11th at 11AM, the anniversary of the end of the War To End All Wars, just like the rest of the western world. Why the fsck are you Yanks always so goddam late?

We will remember them.

It's a lot harder to end a war, than to start one (-1, Offtopic)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040604)

On behalf of all the Yanks, I apologize for all the isolationists in the 1930's who decided you Europeans could govern themselves and live in peace. Had we known Neville would have told the Czechs to lie down and spread their legs to that madman, we would have intervened sooner.

Re:It's a lot harder to end a war, than to start o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040719)

Then you would have lost all that revenue from selling munitions to both sides of the war.

Re:Memorial Day (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040591)


In honor of memorial day, I forced my huge penis into your mother's recturm. There was red blood, white semen, and the blue bruises on her face. Good times were had by all!

I Am First Poster (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040539)

So eff you

Meridian Mail (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040540)

Mailbox?

Password?

You have one unread message.

To listen to your message, press One One.

Problem Solved (-1, Redundant)

Robert Hayden (58313) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040542)

This would probably work fine until BT got themselves a pellet gun.

Re:Problem Solved (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040715)

What's really sad is, I know places in the UK where on a BT line you can barely get 28kbit/s on an analogue modem, let alone broadband. We have a long way to go. :-(

Re:Problem Solved (1)

Slack3r78 (596506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040757)

You might be surprised/interested to know that the same situation applies here in the states too.

Blow BT out of the water... (0, Redundant)

disneyfan1313 (138976) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040544)

Only 18 balloons would be necessarily to blow BT out the water (according to the article).



I could be wrong, but a strong powered BB-Gun would be all that's needed to blow them out of the water!

Freedom post. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040548)

I luv Dyba;

balloon concept (5, Funny)

1nv4d3r (642775) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040561)

Is this on the horizon?

No, it's overhead.

Re:balloon concept (0, Redundant)

the uNF cola (657200) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040692)

Not if the pellet gun people have their way.

Not worth it... (5, Insightful)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040565)

I have to say...I've got DSL. Would I pay $10 more for twice the speed? Nope. I, like most people, I think, divide expectations into two categories: instant and "a while". I expect page loads to be instant, and I expect a video I'm downloading to take "a while". DSL delivers on these. So basically, the improvement only comes in "a while".

In that "a while", I go off and do other things, perhaps (gasp!) even leaving the computer for a while. That that will take 5 mintues rather than 10, or 30 seconds rather than a minute delivers very little value to me, and I think "good enough" might really crowd out "best" here.

Re:Not worth it... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040600)

see, the idea is that you could share the price in your whole village, which means that your connection would be cheap and fast, especially if you live far of any citys, and thus might not be able to get broadband (cheaply)

just because you dont need it doesn't mean nobody does

Re:Not worth it... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040647)



see, the idea is that you could share the price in your whole village ...

This is the very concept we use when everyone in my village rents your whore mother for the night. We all chip in and line up at the village square where she lays downs and spreads 'em.

Of course, since she's only a $5 whore the individual financial impact is minimal.

Definitely worth it (5, Insightful)

Hershmire (41460) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040610)

People will subscribe to this for the exact same reason you subscribe to DSL. Remember on 56k when web pages were "instant", "a while" was for music (if you're lucky), and video was "read war and peace and see if the stream is done downloading"? $10 more/month is definitely worth double bandwidth.

Re:Definitely worth it (3, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040706)

There's what I might call a "comfort zone" beyond which any faster is indeed irrelevant. An old survey set it at something like 256kbps, it's maybe still that for most web surfing.

Tolerances will vary depending on content - but unless you're a hardcore MPEG/DivX downloader then higher than 512 is not particularly different *today* until multimedia content producers force higher bandwidth, and this is not worth it for most, until enough people have very high speed access and the infrastructure to handle it also.

Re:Definitely worth it (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040728)

With NTL or many other international ISP's unfortunately, Double Speed != Double bandwidth.......

Re:Not worth it... (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040621)

It really all depends on how you use it. I recently upgraded from 1.2mbs/160kbs (CAD$30) to 3.5mbs/800kbs (CAD$50). The thing I was really after was more upstream bandwidth, and so the price was worth it for me.

The increased bandwidth doesn't make a difference to web page load times (well, being switch from interleaved channelisation to fast path lowered my latency by 50ms, which did make a difference), but I'm now less worried about how long a big download will take, and I'm certainly not worried about killing my connection with multi-MB uploads. And, I no longer feel the need to upload large files for my friends or family to download as my upstream bandwidth can now easily cope with them downloading directly from my server (I pay CAD$4 for a static IP too).

Re:Not worth it... (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040626)

Really?

I wonder why you are still not using your old 9200 bauds modem for your connection? After all, it is just a little bit longer to expect...

And why didn't you still use your old 386 with a math co-processor?

And,...

Re:Not worth it... (1)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040681)

Because...as I said before...DSL does what I need it to do. You can't get any better than instant. The new stuff doesn't move a significant portion of the content I access from one column to another. 10x speed maybe, but not 2x.

Re:Not worth it... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040687)

Until recently I was on a 1Mbit connection. After moving house, I downgraded to half that, and I do notice the difference, especially when downloading ISOs, or when posting X sessions home. Will I pay the £10 more a month to go back to the 1Mbit? Maybe. If it were only £5 there would be no hesitation.

Re:Not worth it...WORTH IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040696)

Yes but this speeds data BOTH ways. It's worth it for that. Most DSL' obviously don't.

Re:Not worth it... (1)

keepr (613447) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040713)

like most people ?? Most people want it and they want it now. I think you should take a second to realize that you might not be in the popular majority on this one..

Higher speeds also create new avenues for such things as Voice over ip, video teleconferancing, and many many other productive applications.

If people didn't pay for higher speeds we would all still be at 56k or ever 33.6 for that matter, I emplore you please don't stand in the way of progress!

I personally would pay another 40 bucks a month to double my service speed..

Re:Not worth it... (5, Informative)

E-prospero (30242) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040720)

I don't speak for this particular company, but I would guess that you are not their target audience. They are trying to solve the last mile problem for people that can't get DSL at present - i.e., those that are too far from an exchange, or those that live in an area whose broadband demands are sufficiently small that the local exchange isn't going to get upgraded, or whose existing cable infrastructure won't handle a DSL signal.

This is no small problem. I live in a residential area in a populous state capital (>1 million residents), yet I can't get DSL because my local phone infrastructure doesn't support it. An airborne solution gets around this limitation; I just need to put an antenna on my roof. I would give my right arm for this kind of solution where I live. As it is, I'm limited to a 56k dialup.

Russ %-)

The anywhere wireless is what sells me (5, Insightful)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040755)

I'd definitely tend to agree with you. Our cable service is certainly 'good enough' for my web browsing and downloading needs.

However I think the real killer here is the wireless aspect. Imagine paying for one broadband account that you can use anywhere sans wires. For me I'd plunk down the extra $10 without a second thought.

regards,
Nik

donald duck (5, Funny)

Rxke (644923) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040568)

Biggest problem I see; these balloons are filled with helium, when they use a pipe to channel the voices thru these things, won't they come back sounding like that nervous duck? I dunno, IANAE (engineer)

RFC 1149 (4, Funny)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040569)

Ahh, the upgrade to RFC 1149 [ietf.org] is here at last.

Target Practice! (0)

Whooba (672718) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040570)

*whips out his blow gun*

What is BT doing in the water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040571)

And why are balloons used in navel warfare?

Will the air-ships be (1)

Snork Asaurus (595692) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040572)

Zeppelin-NT [zeppelin-nt.com] ?

Re:Will the air-ships be (1)

Black Rabbit (236299) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040598)

>> Zeppelin-NT?

Did this project start out as a collaboration with IBM as well?

Re:Will the air-ships be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040612)

oh geeze. There's no way in hell I'd ride that thing. It's doomed to crash and burn.

NOT a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040575)

Rednecks will shoot the balloons. Trust me.

Re:NOT a good idea (1)

phuturephunk (617641) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040667)

...nah nah, hayseeds maybe, but not rednecks..There's too many squirrels for dinner that the ammo is better spent on..

Re:NOT a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040756)

This is britan, not texas. Besides, the texans can not hit the broadside of a barn at 10 paces.

Important Reward! (2, Funny)

borgdows (599861) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040578)

We'll reward 50,000$ anyone who shoots those evil pirate balloons!

Remember: When you are download MP3, you are downloading COMMUNISM !!!

-- This message is brought to you by the RIAA/MPAA.

The English are so charmingly eccentric (-1, Flamebait)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040582)

While most Americans consider blimps only suitable for promotional purposes and overhead golf shots, the merry olde English are trying to find some use for the obsolete gasbags.

It's really no surprise, the country loves it's eccentrics, from Sinclair's little electric scooter to the Osborne luggable to the Robin Reliant to their steam powered subway trains.

Their standard of living would improve if they ever upgrade their technology to at least 1970's level, but then their little country wouldn't have the Disneyesque appeal.

Re:The English are so charmingly eccentric (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040615)

We even like to make water flow uphill

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3046791.stm

Re:The English are so charmingly eccentric (5, Interesting)

JohnRlI (199149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040665)

While most Americans consider blimps only suitable for promotional purposes and overhead golf shots, the merry olde English are trying to find some use for the obsolete gasbags.

Yes, we all know what a crime it is to be innovative and thoughtful in America, unless you have the funding of a large company behind you and you#ve been garanteed by market research that your project will have a large return.

It's really no surprise, the country loves it's eccentrics, from Sinclair's little electric scooter to the Osborne luggable to the Robin Reliant to their steam powered subway trains.

I'd love to see one of these steam powered subway trains you speak of, by my recollection they were put out of service quite some time ago. Of course when it opened on the 10th of January in 1863 steam was the norm, but that was phased out by 1961. You see, our underground train system is half the age of your whole damn country, and has inspired systems like it the world over and still it carrys more people than any other.

Their standard of living would improve if they ever upgrade their technology to at least 1970's level, but then their little country wouldn't have the Disneyesque appeal.

Have you ever actually been to the UK for more than tourism? The school I went to is older than the united states, by almost twice as much. Our country has great herritage and we like to preserve that herritage, and we do so while modernising our services. The touristy areas make these modernisations less apparent because they're less attractive to tourists. I suggest you come live here for a few years and make your mind up on the "Disneyesqe Appeal".

I think you'll find the US has far more luddite encampments dotted around the place, who embrace guns and spurn any sort of government or technology that there are over here, maybe they should be dealt with?

Re:The English are so charmingly eccentric (1)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040708)

"You see, our underground train system is half the age of your whole damn country, and has inspired systems like it the world over and still it carrys more people than any other."

Sorry to burst your bubble, since I am in the UK too and was enjoying your heated response to the obvious troll above, but the Tokyo underground system carries more people daily than the London Underground does.

graspee

Re:The English are so charmingly eccentric (1)

JohnRlI (199149) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040740)

Whoops, so it does. Doesn't change anything though :)

Re:The English are so charmingly eccentric (2, Insightful)

Black Rabbit (236299) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040725)

Lessee...

Sinclair C5, I give you the Segway.

Osborne Luggable, I give you the C64-SX, not to mention a luggable that Compaq made for a while. (Still got one, somewhere...)

Robin Reliant, I give you the (Kaboom!) Pinto. Oh, and the Plymouth Reliant.

As for the steam powered subways, the then Metropolitan Railway was running in London in 1863, well before electric trains had been invented, and in 1890, the London Underground was the first to convert to electric power. Somebody tell this to the good folks in San Francisco, whose streetcars still use a cable drive, and the folks in NYC whose subway didn't get rolling until 1904. (Alfred Ely Beech didn't really count.)

Britain and Europe may be behind North American standards in technology in some respects, but far ahead in others. Phones, roads and railways come to mind. And if their Disneyesque standard of living is so bad, why does Disney like to copy it?

whats stopping it? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040586)

from the article:
The technology behind the idea has been around for years, with the US Government operating several such aerostats as communication systems on its borders and the US military employing similar technology for about 50 years.

so, it seems to be pretty workable, and according to the article its not to expensive. so whats the reason this isn't already wildly addapted? i didn't see any problems mentioned in the article

Re:whats stopping it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040685)

You'd trust your companies communications to a balloon? I wonder what SLA's they offer, must be comparable to a traditional OC or fibre landline - or they wouldn't compare them right?

Re:whats stopping it? (2, Interesting)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040695)

I am thinking the problem of wind moving these things around is grossly understated by the article. Minimum distance for one of these things would be 1.5km but if they say they only need 18 total that means they must expect distances of 20-30km+ which is quite a distance. Customer sites would need tight beam directional antennas to go that far that would lose signal as soon as the balloon moved much at all. They say in the article that they will have an "antenna stabilisation system" that keeps the balloon in place even if its getting blow around, but could it really keep it in place within a few feet considering it's on a 1.5km tether? Honestly that seems like the sticky point to me, unless i am way off in how much tolerance for movement the customer antennas would have.

spelling (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040593)

why can't slashdot do some simple fucking spell checking?? it's not bloody difficult. fucking morons, nobody wants to read lame ass shit like this, they're fucking disrespecting us by posting shit like this, fucking bastards. cunts

oh sweet 80's (-1, Offtopic)

tucolino (654142) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040613)

99 red baloons...

Re:oh sweet 80's OFFTOPIC? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040659)

-1 Stupid, yes
-1 Fucking Gay, sure
-1 Posted by an Asshole, absolutely

But Offtopic?!! wtf? I don't think so, cunts.

I've tested high speed balloons (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040619)


Specifically, I rubbed my dick all over your mom's tits vigorously.

If protecting against the weather is possible.... (5, Insightful)

idfrsr (560314) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040620)

Ok,just to stop silly pellet gun comments... it would take one that could shoot 1.5km accurately (according to article that is how high they are and for the metrically impaired that's just under a mile), so that would be one nifty pellet gun. But it wouldn't suprise me in one such toy weapon existed in the US....

The article only mentions the opportunity for UK coverage but what about countries where laying fiber/cable would be a huge undertaking. 3rd World contries could certainly benefit from this kind of technology, if it works as well as they say it does. Wiring countries without the usual western infrastructure might be much more cost effective with this approach. Though I am not holding my breath on this... though the article does mention that the US military uses things like these...

Re:If protecting against the weather is possible.. (1)

twilight30 (84644) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040638)

And yes, this is meant seriously :)

One-word question:

Airplanes?

Re:If protecting against the weather is possible.. (4, Insightful)

Gunzour (79584) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040716)

One-word question:

Airplanes?


That's what I was thinking as I read this article. Fortunately most commercial airplanes fly well above 1.5km, just make sure you don't put these balloons near an airport. General aviation planes (that is, small private planes, not commercial airliners) often fly much lower, and these balloons would be a serious safety threat for them. The balloons would need to be brightly marked and lighted, and there presence would need to be depicted on aeronautical charts. Assuming that's done, however, and assuming there are not so many of them that flying at 1.5km or below becomes an obstacle course, I think it would be okay. If they put VOR transmitters (something pilots use for navigation) in the balloons, they could actually benefit pilots.

Of course, the main benefit as far as internet access goes is to be able to reach rural areas. My guess is that the speed claims would not hold true in real usage, and concerns about privacy and security would be significant. For those in rural areas that have little other choice, this could be one of the few choices they have.

Re:If protecting against the weather is possible.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040686)

When they stop putting tires around each others necks and setting them on fire, we will consider sending these balloons over their way.

Re:If protecting against the weather is possible.. (1)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040735)

Okay, the balloons are only a mile up and are meters across. It'd be very easy to launch a DoS attack against them with conventional weaponry. And because it's America, you know how millions of us have firearms, right?

Imagine some redneck interrupted in the middle of a WWE download because the connection goes out. And imagine said redneck running outside in frustration and opening fire on the broadband balloon with his .45 caliber converted automatic rifles.

So how do they plan to accomplish this?? (3, Funny)

Milhouse_ph (538432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040623)

What is more, it is would not slow down as more and more people use the service which is the case with DSL - broadband via the phone line.

finally, infinite bandwidth...on another note... I'm off to go play with my perpetual motion machine...

ADSL doesn't slow down (1)

Danta (2241) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040697)

"What is more, it is would not slow down as more and more people use the service which is the case with DSL - broadband via the phone line."

Fun aside and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that ADSL slows down as more users connect. I think they mixed it up with cable, which does have this issue.

Re:ADSL doesn't slow down (1)

Milhouse_ph (538432) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040722)

yeah... that's what I though too... so the only thing I could think of was that they were commenting on the lack of bandwidth on DSL connections... or maybe a slow system which can't route fast enough...

Look, the Broadband Blimp!!! (1)

ayjay29 (144994) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040627)

BAM!!!

I don't believe he fell for that one.

Answer to the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6040649)

"Is this on the horizon?"

No, it isn't. This is just a stupid idea.

What? (4, Insightful)

Josuah (26407) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040651)

From the article: What is more, it is would not slow down as more and more people use the service which is the case with DSL - broadband via the phone line. Huh? I fail to see how just 18 base stations would provide total UK coverage and at the same time be able to provide, say, 2Mbps up and down to all customers at the same time. The United Kingdom has a lot of people in it, last I checked. And DSL only slows down if the ISP's resources are over-provisioned from their point up. Cable is the one where resources are over-provisioned at the last-mile and up. Or does DSL somehow work different in the UK?

Also, although the article does address the issue of weather, I'd assume that performance must decrease somewhat during an electrical storm as more errors are introduced into the bitstream.

Security (2, Interesting)

scrotch (605605) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040657)

I doubt the military will be using them - it's an awfully easy target. Not open to a pellet gun attack, obviously, but perhaps to air-to-ground missile attack.

I assume that eavesdropping would have to be done at their altitude? Or could you listen in on unencrypted communication from wherever you could stick an antenna?

Perhaps the existing ground level wiring will make a nice backup for customers that want this sort of security.

Re:Security (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040732)

Did you read the article? It said that the military has been using them for years at several listening stations.

My guess would be that the ballooon part of the technology has been very well tested and documented.

"baloons" (1)

falsification (644190) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040660)

baloons

Aaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh!

On the horizon? (1)

Herger (48454) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040661)

I think the goal for this is to be above the horizon.

It's an interesting idea though.

security... (1)

lpret (570480) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040682)

ah yes, our good friend security would be left in the dust... wireless is inherently insecure, so as long as people are comfortable with it, i guess itll do fine.

What will the CAA say? (4, Informative)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040684)

Well, the C.A.A. [caa.co.uk] has approved 2 of these sites in Yorkshire with cables extending to 1500m (approx 5000ft AGL).

Now, this is all very good and well until they decide to apply for licences in high aviation traffic areas say: West of the Pennines or anywhere within 75miles of Manchester Airport.

It seems unlikely that the licences would be granted as these things don't just require "Danger-Area" status but a complete DNF area status for serveral miles around. With the U.K. having very little airspace available below the 'airways', this could get to be a major hassle for G/A and Military aviation.

Note: For those of you not in the UK, airspace below the 'airways' is largely populated by Aerodrome Traffic Zones and MATZ due to the small land-mass and (relatively) high density of major airports.

Latency? (1)

jasoncart (573937) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040705)

They state bandwidth, but would anyone care to guess what kind of latency we would be looking at? I know satellite connections have too high a latency for games, but then again they are miles up...

99 Luft Ballons (4, Funny)

da3dAlus (20553) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040712)

[Obligatory Critic Reference] From "Red Balloon 2 -- The Balloon's REVENGE":

Terrorist: "One more step and the red balloon becomes the dead balloon."

[Scared kid releases baloon]

Terrorist: "How did I not see that coming..."

im sure airlines and pilots will love this.. (0)

qnxdude (520409) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040752)

antenna's are bad enough but baloons on 1.5km tethers represent a significant hazard to aviation

Cell phone, (2, Insightful)

Openadvocate (573093) | more than 11 years ago | (#6040758)

so, they might as well throw in a few cell phone antennas while they are at it. Oh and a few of those video surveillance cameras that they are so fond of over there.
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