Loon internet balloons. Last month Loon pushed data almost 1,000 kilometers across seven balloons.
Mere months after shedding its “project” moniker, Google’s internet-by-balloon moonshot, Loon has hit another milestone. Last month, the tech juggernaut pushed data packets across seven of its balloons at a distance of nearly 1,000 kilometers. Previously, the record was 100 kilometers across two balloons, according to a Medium post from Loon.
And as far as point-to-point goes, where one lone balloon connects to another directly, the outfit broke its previous 100km record for that too, and pushed data over 600km. Loon says that’s its longest point-to-point link thus far. Speaking of Loon’s special antennas: “Their accuracy is equivalent to throwing a ball 100 meters and landing it in a wastebasket. In this case, however, the wastebasket was in constant motion in the stratosphere.” Cool.
The net benefit here is that Loon internet balloons are essentially creating a floating mesh network for delivering internet connectivity. Rather than daisy-chaining from the first balloon and then the last after the initial ground-based connection, the balloons in between those are fully capable of broadcasting a signal as well.
That’s the sort of thing Loon internet balloons are after — and needs to have in place — if it plans to start charging for the service next year.
Loon leverages a process called backhaul connection to beam internet to balloons 20 kilometers above the Earth. Predictive algorithms are then used to determine the direction balloons should travel in order to stay connected.
The milestones were surpassed last month in trials that began in Nevada and stretched between seven balloons along the border of California and Nevada. Loon also recently achieved its longest-ever connection between two balloons at a distance of 600 kilometers.
Last year, Loon began to use machine learning techniques for its navigation algorithms to maintain connections between clusters of balloons. Clusters of balloons allow for Loon to deploy internet faster and cover a larger region.
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