Thursday, February 21, 2008

Google's Latest: Wireless Data Via Balloon ..

This can't be a rumor, because The Wall Street Journal reported it; Google is considering contracting with a company with the exotic name of Space Data, or even buying it. This bit of news might just become that much hot air after a few weeks, but it's quaintly interesting nevertheless -- because it involves sending up balloons to extend a long-range cell network, or a wide-area broadband) Internet network. In short, it goes like this: there's a tower at place A, and place B, hundreds of kilometres away, has no coverage -- so send up a balloon with transceivers into the stratosphere at place B, and the network gets extended. In fact, a signal could get spread across thousands of square kilometres this way; word is that an equivalent feat via cellular towers would need 40 of them to be put up.

No, we aren't kidding, and neither are they: balloons are an inexpensive proposition (just plastic and some gas, to be precise, and the transceivers aren't expensive either), so wireless service could be offered in remote areas at a low cost. Space Data isn't fumbling with a new concept: it already launches 10 balloons a day across parts of the southern US, providing telecom services to oil companies, among others. Their technology is even used by the US Air Force.

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