Thursday, 27 November 2014

Connecting the Unconnected.


This is a follow on article from my previous article The Missing 3.4B Internet Users. In that article I explained that there would be an extra 3.4B new users in the 3rd world who will be coming online in the next 5 years.

One of the issues on bringing on so many users is to get them access to the Internet itself when reception in these remote but highly populated areas is poor or non-existent. 

There are people working on this, Google as part of their Project X initiative have a Project called Loon which uses balloons to connect people to the Internet from 65,000 feet. The area covered by the transmission is 40Km in diameter under the balloon. It positions itself by moving between wind layers in the atmosphere and is powered by solar cells. The balloons stay in the air for 100 days. They started by using Wifi but quickly switched to using Mobile 4G (LTE) technology in partnership with local phone carriers.

Facebook using the Internet.org organisation is also working on a solution. They are using solar powered planes which also fly at 65,000 feet in the stratosophere. There is currently less information about this project but they claim it’s better than balloons because the position can be controlled more accurately and it can potentially stay aloft for years.

AirBus have a project called Zephr which also uses a solar powered aircraft flying at 65,000 feet. Testing is in early stages and recently it was flown over the UAE for a day and a night before landing.


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