Google Launches Loon Balloon Internet Service

Google, 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.

Read more from Fortune.

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