Project Loon – The Internet for Everyone
When Google commenced Project Loon in New Zealand, in June, 2013 – a project aimed at providing internet via balloons to the rural communities all over the world, the general reaction was “what in the world are they planning?”
Google as a company has ridden innovation like a well-trained horse over the past decade, and providing internet to the world’s developing communities, while seemingly impracticable, is certainly a challenge that they are taking rather seriously.
So, how will it work? Quite simple, stratosphere flying helium balloons which will be flying twice as high as airplanes and even the weather, will be steered by raising or dropping the altitude of the balloons and moving same along the wind currents. Individuals on the ground can then connect to the balloon network using a special Internet transmitter, which will be attached to their building. The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, straight to the global Internet back on Earth.
The project has received a lot of reviews from various sectors, but the most admirable quality lies in the magnitude of the project viz-a-viz the simplicity of its execution. A trip to certain areas across sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will tell anyone, that the Internet is a nearly unreachable luxury. With half the world’s developing communities prepared to choose food over computers, Google’s foremost challenge might be providing internet to computer-less homes. The long run might see more middleclass homes benefitting from the Loon than the actual communities that need it.
However, the advantages far outweigh the challenges with this project; the possibility of bringing the world together under a .com umbrella, making education limitless and non-dependent on various economic factors and creating access to universal healthcare advice, makes this project worthwhile at every step.
For us here in Africa, we will be following the project very closely, not with ears to the ground, but with eyes in the sky.