Project Loon: Connect people everywhere

Created by: Google

Presentation written by: Hamza Samlali, samlali.hamza.1993@gmail.com

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. Barbu, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

Introduction

Today the internet is the most powerful tool in the world, internet has played an important part in our daily life, and in fact, it brings us lots of advantages, and the first one to mention is communication. The major target of internet has always been the communication. Now thanks to the internet, we can communicate in a fraction of second with a person who is sitting in the other part of the world. There are a lot more advantages than just communication but we can sum it up in saying that the internet is playing important roles in human and social development.

As of June 2018, 55.1% of the world’s population has internet access. In 2015, the International Telecommunication Union estimated about 3.2 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population, would be online by the end of the year. Of them, about 2 billion would be from developing countries, including 89 million from least developed countries. Now as much as that would convey good new, it also brings some bad news because that means that half of the people on earth still don’t have internet access in what we call nowadays the digital era.

Presentation of the company

Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. Together they own about 14 percent of its shares and control 56 percent of the stockholder voting power through supervoting stock. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering (IPO) took place on August 19, 2004, and Google moved to its headquarters in Mountain View, California, nicknamed the Googleplex. In August 2015, Google announced plans to reorganize its various interests as a conglomerate called Alphabet Inc.

Google is Alphabet’s leading subsidiary and will continue to be the umbrella company for Alphabet’s Internet interests. Sundar Pichai was appointed CEO of Google, replacing Larry Page who became the CEO of Alphabet. Google has engaged in partnerships with NASA, AOL, Sun Microsystems, News Corporation, Sky UK and others. The company set up a charitable offshoot, Google.org, which was founded in October 2005, and it is the charitable arm of Google. The organization has committed roughly US$100 million in investments and grants to nonprofits annually.

Presentation of the innovation

Project Loon is working on providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.it uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 20 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds. Loon began as a research and development project by X (formerly Google X), but was spun out into a separate company in July 2018.

The balloons are maneuvered by adjusting their altitude in the stratosphere to float to a wind layer after identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Users of the service connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal travels through the balloon network from balloon to balloon, then to a ground-based station connected to an Internet service provider (ISP), then onto the global Internet. The system aims to bring Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and to improve communication during natural disasters to affected regions

The journey of Project Loon

From the early days of testing weather balloons, to designing and building custom launch equipment, to providing connectivity to people after natural disasters, Loon has been committed to tackling the challenge of extending Internet access to unconnected communities worldwide.

2011: Testing a new idea

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Earliest tests start back in 2011, using a weather balloon and basic, off-the-shelf radio parts – the first prototype. The next two years are a process of rapid iteration to prove that balloon-powered internet might just work.

2013: 500,000 kilometers traveled

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One of their balloons completes a lap around the world in 22 days, and clocks the project’s 500,000th kilometer as it begins its second lap. These learnings lead to major improvements in wind prediction models, balloon trajectory, forecast, and navigation.

2013: First Wi-Fi connection

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A sheep farmer in Canterbury, New Zealand is the first person to connect to balloon-powered internet through an internet antenna attached to the roof of his home. Project Loon is revealed to the public.

2014: First LTE connection

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A local school in Agua Fria, in the rural outskirts of Campo Maior, Brazil is connected to the internet for the first time, through a balloon launched nearby. This marks Project Loon’s first successful LTE connection.

2014: 3 million kilometers traveled

Loon balloons log a significant milestone of traveling 3 million kilometers through the stratosphere, a distance that would get you to the moon and back nearly 4 times.

2015: Autolauncher scales operations

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The team develops a highly customized launch system that can fill, lift, and launch our tennis-court sized balloons in under 30 minutes.

2016: One balloon, 98 days

One of their Latin America flights manages to keep a balloon aloft in Peruvian airspace for a total of 98 days, making nearly 20,000 separate altitude adjustments.

2017: Emergency connectivity in Peru

Working together with Telefonica and the Peruvian Government, Project Loon delivers basic connectivity to tens of thousands of people in flood affected areas across the country. At 20 km up in the stratosphere, Loon balloons can provide connectivity where it’s needed, regardless of what’s happening below.

2017: Helping users in Puerto Rico

Collaborating with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, AT&T, T-Mobile, and many others, Project Loon provides basic connectivity to 200,000 people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Project Loon launches balloons from Nevada, using machine learning algorithms to direct them over Puerto Rico.

2018: Loon continues its journey

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Project Loon graduates from X to fulfill their mission to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies.

Conclusion

Project Loon is a radical approach to expanding Internet connectivity. Instead of trying to extend the Internet from the ground, Loon takes to the sky via a network of balloons, traveling along the edge of space, to expand Internet connectivity to rural areas, fill coverage gaps, and improve network resilience in the event of a disaster.

References