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Emtech Digital: Project Loon Head Details How the Balloons Interact

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A key challenge for Googles Project Loon is figuring out how to get the balloons to communicate with each other.

Mike Cassidy, project leader on Google's Project Loon, offers some details of how balloons launched to provide Internet service in previously unserved areas will communicate with each other.

Credit: Jeremy Portje

Google's Project Loon intends to use interconnected balloons to bring Internet service to parts of the world that remain largely disconnected. However, researchers have struggled to find a way for the balloons to communicate with each other.

Loon project lead Mike Cassidy describes how the balloons use high-frequency radio waves to communicate. The balloons are equipped with gimbals that must be pointed at each other to within a tenth of a degree to enable one balloon to send data to another that is 80 kilometers away.

Project Loon works by having ground stations transmit an LTE wireless signal to a nearby balloon, which then passes it on to the other balloons. The balloons must be able to communicate with each other so that they can spread out to cover a larger area with Internet access.

The project is planning to conduct tests in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres later this year. Africa, where only about 10 percent of the continent has access to the Internet, could be a big potential market for Project Loon, according to Cassidy.

From Technology Review
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