A Connected World: Google’s Project Loon gains momentum
Technology gives the world a means to communicate; a means to unite and become a smaller place. The expansion is happening all around us, and at IT Xchange we follow advances in technology that will benefit not only businesses, but future generations. So, when Google’s Project Loon launched last year, we followed the progress of the mission closely.
The plan calls for a system of high-altitude balloons in the stratosphere that will create a wireless Internet network, bringing Internet access to rural and remote areas. Project Loon launched its test-phase on June 16, 2013, which included a group of 30 balloons sent up in New Zealand’s Christchurch/Canterbury region, with 50 local users as network beta testers. Should this initial trial be successful, Google ultimately plans to have thousands of balloons across the globe.
The benefits of an initiative like Project Loon are exponential. An estimated 70% of the people on the planet do not have internet access, and a project such as this has the potential to overcome barriers to education and internet access that once stood between residents of remote locations and the ability to get online. The high altitude balloons would eliminate the connection troubles caused by geographical variants like mountainous regions, archipelagos, and thickly wooded jungles, giving people not only access to information, but education, healthcare, and the ability to stay connected during natural disasters.
In recent decades there has been a push toward creating less expensive computing solutions. IT Xchange makes it our goal to provide hardware options that are no longer marketed by the manufacturer. In this way, we work to help businesses worldwide create a more affordable IT infrastructure. Programs such as our Options Continuations Programs with Lenovo (OCP) and IBM (OCP) extend the lifecycle of existing equipment, combatting the necessity to replace hardware every few years. Should Project Loon take off and be successful in full scale, it would allow businesses operating in remote corners of the earth to access the internet. This alone could lead to an economic boost in poor communities as local businesses are able to market and gain visibility online. In conjunction with life-extending hardware solutions, Project Loon has endless potential for businesses across the globe.
Beyond the incredible scope of such an undertaking, Project Loon is a relatively inexpensive way to accomplish its goals. “The plastic of the balloons is similar to that in shopping bags and the electronics aren’t that different from consumer electronics,” says Richard DeVaul, Loon’s Chief Technical Architect and expert on wearable technology. Project Loon is a major step forward in the realm of affordable technology and internet access for everyone.
From a technological and a sociological point of view, Project Loon is tremendous. IT Xchange may be able to provide reasonable computing solutions to businesses, but Project Loon would be able to provide affordable access to a veritable world of information if it succeeds.
While internet access is considered a necessity (and even a deal-breaker) in most first-world nations, the Internet is still an unattainable luxury in most of the world. Recently, Google announced plans to continue expanding the pilot as 2014 continues, with the goal of creating an uninterrupted ring of connectivity around Earth’s 40th southern parallel. However, that’s not to say that the company has not been met with plenty of angry legislators. Despite the political flack, an initiative such as Project Loon has the potential to create better-educated generations in the future, and a better, healthier, more informed world.