an NEC member, has announced that its Loon unit, which offers wireless
connectivity through high-altitude balloons, will partner with Canadian
satellite operator Telesat. This partnership will see Loon deploy hundreds of
small craft orbiting a relatively low altitude to provide space-based internet.
Loon has previously used this technology primarily to collaborate
with mobile carriers around the world, such as with Telekom Kenya or with
Council member AT&T to provide
connectivity to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The project with Telesat
aims to start with 292 satellites and may reach up to 512 spacecraft, with the
goal of starting commercial service in 2022. Once complete, this project will
provide faster online access in rural areas and to customers that want
real-time data, such as oil rigs and ocean buoys.
Describing why these balloons are so effective, Loon’s Head
of Engineering Sal Candido said, “Since our balloons move with the winds, their
physical coordinates are constantly changing in relation to the ground, each
other, and you. . . Because of that motion, the network challenges present in
Loon’s internet balloon system will also be present for future
non-geostationary orbit communications satellites.”
The New England Council commends Google for this
constructive partnership, and for expanding access to wireless services.