Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by X (formerly Google X), which consists of a network of balloons equipped with routers at the edge of space. The aim of the project is to provide internet to everyone in the world. It is a known fact that many areas in the emerging and developed regions across the globe are deprived of a proper internet access.
Project Loon intends to connect people in rural and remote areas by making use of a network of internet-powered balloons traveling on the edge of space.
Google thinks its internet balloons will be a $10 billion business. Each balloon is equipped with LTE antennas capable of covering around 80 kilometers on the ground, a 100W solar panel array that charges a battery for nighttime operations, and additional antennas to relay traffic to other balloons.
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Assuming all the mechanisms of the project are functioning as planned, every single person can have access to internet. Loon’s Use of Renewable Energy is an added advantage as it will greatly influence and inspire future projects. It creates an interplay between solar energy to keep the balloon functional while using wind energy to define its motor controls. With the constant connectivity to the each other through the internet collaboration between people across the globe will become much easier. The main problem with the Project Loon is the certainty of eventual hardware failure. If a Loon balloon fails, it can either remain up in the air floating, making it difficult to bring down or it might go down in unwanted areas as they can’t be reached. Another concern over this project is internet privacy. As the project gives Google more power over a wider range of consumer behaviour the information obtained can become a security issue if it is shared with Government agencies.
Increasing the volume of internet users would invariably increase traffic on the world’s leading search engine, Google Search. The increase in search users implies that more ads will be displayed which in turn result in profits for Google. Given the rising number of the mobile internet subscriptions and also the ever-increasing growth in the world population, the need for access to the internet is going to increase even more. The growing population, changing consumer internet habits and multiple developments via Internet-of-Things could drive the demand for a full-time easy access to the internet from every corner of the globe, which could be made possible by implementing Project Loon to its full potential.
Google has already run tests with several different telecoms. It has conducted test runs with Vodafone in New Zealand, Telstra in Australia, and Telefonica in Latin America – and is working on commercial deals with other new network operators. Google will split the revenue from any new customers with the telecommunications company providing the LTE spectrum.
SpaceX and Facebook are also working on similar projects and could be the potential competitors to Google. Facebook is the only company that has started testing its project by the use of unmanned aerial vehicles unlike SpaceX, which plans to provide a similar internet access facility by the use of a fleet of satellites.
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