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Unread 2015-12-02, 12:32 PM   #1
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Default Google: Project Loon

This was an idea (that has been buried in another thread on here I am sure) but the general idea is to provide internet access to everyone around the world.


A Look At Project Loon’s Status, Courtesy of Nat & Lo





Some of our readers may be familiar with Nat and Lo, two Googlers who like to make videos of things within the company that strike their fancy. They call this their “20% Project”, a project that Googlers work on in their spare time to promote their beliefs and interests. They put out videos fairly frequently showing the inner workings of Google and its various projects. This week’s pick was Project Loon. Though not exactly shrouded in mystery, nobody had taken it upon themselves to ask the right questions and explain Project Loon to the common man like Nat and Lo have in this video until now. This is just one of many of Google’s moonshot projects, but it’s definitely one of the more important ones.
As a brief introduction to get anybody up to speed who may not already know about Project Loon, Google is using specially engineered giant balloons, designed to float twice as high as airplanes, to transport what are essentially giant cell towers through the air. The goal is to provide internet to the entire world; whether you’re on a farm in the middle of nowhere, in the tribal forests of Africa or on the top of a mountain, Project Loon aims to enable you to get online. According to Nat and Lo’s video, this has so far been accomplished to some extent in testing.
The biggest problem thus far is the balloons leaking or popping under stress, with the longest-lived balloon so far sitting at an impressive 187 days, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated “Leak Squad”, who put the balloons through extensive stress testing that simulates stratospheric conditions, as well as asking manufacturer employees who walk on top of balloons during their making to wear fluffier socks. During pressure and condition tests, balloons are routinely checked for strength at certain pressure intervals, then taken to the limit and purposely burst, at which point the tears are examined using special equipment to see things like what may have caused them, what direction the pop started in and how much pressure was focused on that spot.
While the longevity of the balloons and a few other factors are fine-tuned, testing is set to go live in more locations such as rural Indonesia, with some FCC filings even hinting at more testing on U.S. soil, which could eventually spell the end of deadzones where even satellite internet is barely feasible. As of now, there’s no real proposed timeframe to move Loon out of the testing phase, but with things going swimmingly thus far, it should only be a matter of time before everybody from Uncle Joe in Oklahoma to every village elder in Africa has internet access, helping to bring world culture and economic diversity to anybody who wants it.


https://www.google.com/loon/

How Loon flies




Project Loon balloons travel approximately 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere. Winds in the stratosphere are stratified, and each layer of wind varies in speed and direction. Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.
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Unread 2016-02-16, 09:15 AM   #2
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Google's Project Loon Will Be Tested By Real Carriers This Year



Google’s Project Loon is an ambitious plan to float internet into the life of anyone who is currently without. But after a series of setbacks, the service is finally going to be tested by carriers this year.


Re/code reports from the annual TED conference in Vancouver that the project has come out the other side of a troubled stage stronger than before. With tweaks to the design, the balloons can now be made more cheaply but still navigate accurately—in fact, one balloon is said to have travelled around the world 19 times in 187 days last year.
Carriers have been involved with the project for a while, though the system has never been tested properly on consumer networks. Now at a stage where it can provide a 15 Mbps connection, Google is partnering with carriers in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and beyond and it hopes to test the aerial networks in anger with these real-life carriers some time this year.




This may yet work.
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Unread 2016-03-01, 09:21 AM   #3
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Indian Project Loon Reaches A 2,500 MHz Stumbling Block




Google’s Project Loon is based around using balloons carrying networking equipment to be floated around 20,000 meters, or 65,000 feet, above the ground in the stratosphere and above commercial airliners and most air traffic. The balloons will be used to beam the signal down to earth using LTE frequencies and according to information from Google, a single balloon can provide coverage for an area around 25 miles in diameter. Google has successfully tested Project Loon technology in California, Brazil and New Zealand and is currently conducting tests in Sri Lanka. For India, it had wanted to test the networking technology by broadcasting at the the lower frequencies (700 or 800 MHz), because the lower the frequency, the further the signal will go and the greater the coverage. However, the Indian government had appointed a panel under the IT secretary and asked BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, a state-owned telecommunications business) to provide the necessary infrastructure for Google’s testing. Unfortunately for Google, BSNL own spectrum is at the 2,500 MHz frequency point and not at the lower end of things.


The latest is that the Indian government has asked Google to select a carrier as a partner for the testing process and an official said this on the subject: “Google wants to test the Loon Project in expensive and scarce spectrum bands. It has been asked to partner with any telecom operator that can meet its requirement and then approach the government for testing Loon.” If Google wishes to test the technology with BSNL, it must use BSNL’s existing frequencies – which (currently) means adopting the higher frequency, 2,500 MHz, part of the spectrum. And one potential stumbling block is that India has yet to start an auction for spectrum at the 700 MHz frequency point, but it is expected to be the most expensive available. The Indian telecommunications regulator, Trai, has suggested that this spectrum will reach Rs 11,485 crore per MHz and that a carrier will be required to buy at least 5 MHz.


Google have improved the networking technology incorporated into the solar powered Project Loon balloons; compared with the initial specification, a single balloon now offers ten times the capacity. However, it is unclear how well the technology will work at the higher frequencies, which are better suited to short range capacity boosting rather than longer ranged blanket coverage, which the Loon balloons provide. It is possible that Google will need to wait for the up and coming 700 MHz spectrum before selecting a carrier partner, and then reapproaching the Indian government for testing approval.
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Unread 2016-06-15, 07:04 PM   #4
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Complaint Accuses Project Loon Of Using Stolen Technology




Google, now Alphabet, is no stranger to working on projects which other companies might consider to be too far-fetched or fruitless to focus on. Although that has not stopped the company from proceeding with these less than orthodox projects. While some make it, some take considerable time in coming to fruition and some have extremely important implications, like for instance Project Loon. This is the company’s view of how they can connect the world further by making use of balloon technology to offer connectivity in remote parts of the world. An idea which not only could be game-changing in the grand scale of things, but one which is also quite likely to be fairly profitable as well.

However, it now seems as those one company is taking specific issue with Project Loon. The company is Space Data Corporation and their main issue is that they believe that Alphabet, albeit Google at the time, has effectively copied their idea. So much so that Space Data has now filed a complaint on the matter with the Northern California District Court against Google, Alphabet and X. The complaint focuses on two specific patent infringements that Space Data claims to have taken place. One revolves around the use of balloons as a route to providing connectivity, while the other focuses on “unmanned lighter-than-air safe termination and recovery methods.” Both patents do seem to be owned by Space Data and do seem to have been filed long before Project Loon came to be. Which is the basis of the Space Data’s complaint.

Interestingly, as The Verge reports, earlier reports dating as far back as 2008 do highlight that Google reps (including Sergey Brin and Larry Page) visited Space Data and were made privy to the balloon tech the company was (at the time) working on. The dates also do highlight that these meeting came before Project Loon came through. Which presumably Space Data is using as further evidence of Project Loon’s likeness to its own services, products and patented technology. At the moment, besides the actual filing of the complaint, there is little to further note on, although you can read the full details of the Space Data complaint by heading through the source link below.
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Unread 2017-02-17, 10:38 AM   #5
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Project Loon Achieves Internet-Beaming Breakthrough


Breakthrough paves the way for a reliable Internet service provided by balloons.

Google parent company Alphabet's ambitious Project Loon idea is one step closer to achieving its goal of delivering Internet to underserved areas via balloons.
In a Thursday blog post, Astro Teller, head of Alphabet's X team in charge of the company's moonshot projects, said the folks working on Project Loon recently had a "magical, serendipitous" discovery that pushed the initiative forward in a big way.
"They've now exceeded even their own expectations for how well their smart software algorithms can help their balloons navigate the globe, and in the process they've leapt much closer to a day when balloon-powered Internet could become a reality for people in rural and remote regions of the globe," he wrote.
The machine-learning-powered algorithms can now "send small teams of balloons to form a cluster over a specific region where people need Internet access." That's a departure from the team's original plan to create "rings of balloons" around the globe that would drift with the wind. The original idea was that as one balloon drifted out of range of a specific region, another would float along to take its place.
Now, the balloons can "dance on the winds in small loops to remain where needed," Teller explained.
There's several benefits to this approach.


"We'll be able to put together a Loon network over a particular region in weeks not months, and it would be a lot less work to launch and manage," Teller wrote. "We'll reduce the number of balloons we need and get greater value out of each one. All of this helps reduce the costs of operating a Loon-powered network."
But he cautioned: while this is a positive sign, there's still a lot of work to be done. The navigation algorithms still need improvement, and the Loon team needs to test them more extensively.
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Unread 2017-10-10, 08:55 PM   #6
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Google Cleared to Bring Internet to Puerto Rico with Project Loon





Google’s Project Loon has been under development for a few years now, and it has been tested in a few emerging markets, including India. Now, Google has received approval from the FCC to bring Internet to Puerto Rico using Project Loon. This is a big deal seeing as the majority of the island is still without power (nearly 90%) and two thirds of the island still doesn’t have cellular connections, meaning they aren’t able to call their family to let them know they are okay. And this is all the damage that two category 5 hurricanes caused on the island.
Project Loon is basically huge balloons that can bring Internet to remote places. It is Google’s way of getting more people connected, which then means more people using its services. These hug balloons will float around Puerto Rico for up to 6 months at a time. Which should give those in Puerto Rico some temporary relief, while much of the island begins the rebuilding process. Now Google does note that it will need to push out a small OTA to devices, so that it can use band 8. Which should work for most smartphones including those from Apple, Samsung and LG. Google has gotten approval from carriers down in Puerto Rico to use its bands with Project Loon, so it appears that Google has finished jumping through all of the hoops already.
Puerto Rico suffered severe damage from Hurricane Irma and Maria, which were both category five hurricanes, and they both just decimated the island. Puerto Rico already was suffering with a pretty old infrastructure for power, and that infrastructure was completely wiped out. With many officials stating that it could be up to a year before the entire island has power again, things are getting pretty bad down there. While Project Loon isn’t going to help get power back quicker, it will help those in Puerto Rico get in touch with their family members outside of Puerto Rico, whom they have not been able to contact since before the hurricanes hit, and it’s making plenty of people worry about their loved ones, as they should be.
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Unread 2017-10-14, 12:38 AM   #7
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Google Spins Off Its Project Loon As A Corporation





Google’s Project Loon was spun off as a corporation and is now called Loon Inc., as revealed by its recent filing with the United States Federal Communications Commission. The Mountain View, California-based company has yet to announce the move in an official capacity but is apparently preparing to let its internet initiative continue developing on its own going forward.
Project Loon was incubated by Google’s moonshot factory X in 2011 after the firm has been considering such a program for around three years. It was officially announced in mid-2013 and ran pilot programs all over the world, covering some areas of New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and many other countries. The newly incorporated entity is presently active in Puerto Rico where it’s striving to provide internet connectivity to the disaster-struck U.S. territory in the Caribbean in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Maria. Loon’s request for a temporary permission to fly Internet-relaying balloons over Puerto Rico which the company submitted to the FCC is believed to be the first public document referring to it as Loon Inc.
Many of X-enabled moonshot projects are spun off from their parent after reaching a certain phase of development and being deemed fit for standalone operation. Alphabet’s self-driving division Waymo was incorporated in a similar manner last year after spending years directly under Google and Project Wing is expected to follow suit in the near future. Loon Project Lead Alastair Westgarth is said to be the likeliest candidate for the company’s Chief Executive Officer after spending nine months with Google. It’s currently unclear what kind of a business model is Loon set to adopt but the firm will now be under the pressure of becoming profitable, being categorized as one of Alphabet’s Other Bets, moonshot businesses seeking to capitalize on various emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles. Loon’s existing creations are capable of delivering 4G LTE speeds in a radius of 20 kilometers, or 12.42 miles. While the performance of Alphabet’s Other Bets isn’t specifically broken down as part of the company’s financials, the official announcement of Loon becoming a standalone business may be made alongside the tech giant’s Q3 2017 report which is set to be detailed on October 26th.
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Unread 2017-10-31, 11:31 AM   #8
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T-Mobile Joins Project Loon To Bring Puerto Rico Back Online




T-Mobile is expanding its efforts to bringing its mobile services up and running in Puerto Rico following the devastation left behind by Hurricane Maria in September, and in recent news, the mobile operator announced that it began collaborating with Alphabet’s team X in order to expand its mobile coverage with the help of Project Loon. As a result, beginning with late last week and as rebuilding efforts continue, T-Mobile customers located in Puerto Rico have had access to limited Internet connectivity from Project Loon balloons, as long as they attempted to connect using a 4G LTE device supporting band 8.


After Hurricane Maria dissipated in early October, T-Mobile quickly began working with other wireless companies, the FCC, and the Puerto Rican government in order to provide funding and regulatory relief with the help of a dozen cargo planes and multiple barges carrying supplies and equipment to the island. This included cells-on-wheels, cells-on-light-trucks, and hundreds of portable generators. Additionally, the company provided the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) a large generator in order to help in keeping the San Juan airport open for life-saving supply deliveries, and in overall, up until now, T-Mobile was able to recover more than 80 percent of its original outdoor signal in Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Maria. However, the company also claims that it left no stone unturned in regards to their options for getting people connected until the infrastructure can be replaced, and as a result, the carrier also worked together with Alphabet’s team X in order to bring balloon-based LTE access in the region. Project Loon is currently an experimental system aiming to bring Internet access to regions that lack coverage via hot air balloons. The team had launched its balloons from a site in Nevada before navigating them to Puerto Rico, and as of this writing these balloons provide limited LTE access for both AT&T and T-Mobile customers on the island.


T-Mobile continues to work on recovering its services in the region, and meanwhile, the carrier also sent supplies and generators to 600 of its employees on the island, all the while converting some of its retail stores into daycare and charging centers. In closing T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray claimed that the company is entirely committed to getting Puerto Rico back on its feet and “won’t stop until all we need to do is done!”
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