Project Loon

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Information about Project Loon

Published on March 10, 2014

Author: snehl17



Ballon powered Internet is the future of communication network.
It is like crossing the geographical barrier of netowrks.

Communication has evolved from pigeon to whatsapp..! Whats Next Frontier?

 Facebook recently acquired WhatsApp, a company with at most $300M revenues, and 55 employees, for $19billion which is 13 times Facebook’s (not WhatsApp’s) entire 2013 net income – and almost 2.5 times Facebook’s (again, not WhatsApp’s) 2013 gross revenues.  Undisputed leader of Social media just recognized the market shift towards mobile and now able to reach almost every mobile user in the world in a second.

Challenges and Scenarios

Already Predicted Future technologies:  5G (data speed upto 1Tbps)  MIMO(Multi Input Multi Output)  IP enabled automation.  Touch and sensors will dominate.  Shifting to cloud IT-Infrastructure.  Computing will reach to non-PC devices also.  And…………..?


Wherever we go Internet should follow  We cannot imagine life without Internet.  Data network has reached to almost all mobiles and other devices.  Does it connects the entire geographical world?  Nearly 2/3rd of the world devoid of the Internet.  Can we eradicate this barrier?

Internet penetration in the World

Project Loon  Google kicked off Project Loon, its experiment to work out whether it's possible to patch internet connectivity gaps around the world with a string of networked balloons.  Google launched the 30 radio-laden balloons in Canterbury, near Christchurch in New Zealand,with each able to deliver 3G-comparable speeds to "hundreds" of people in an area that covers a 40km diameter. The balloons are travelling about 20km above Earth's surface, which Google notes is twice the altitude of commercial airlines and not in the path of birds.

How Balloons moves?

 Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. They are carried around the Earth by winds and they can be steered by rising or descending to an altitude with winds moving in the desired direction.  People connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, then to the global Internet back on Earth.

How Balloons are designed? Envelope Antenna Control from Earth Solar Panels Power of Equipment Weight 10 kg

 The Balloon Envelope is the name for the inflatable part of the balloon. Project Loon’s balloon envelopes are made from sheets of polyethylene plastic and stand fifteen meters wide by twelve meters tall when fully inflated.  They are specially constructed for use in super pressure balloons, which are longer-lasting than weather balloons because they can withstand higher pressure from the air inside when the balloons reach float altitude.  Radio antennas to communicate with other balloons and with Internet antennas on the ground.  And batteries to store solar power so the balloons can operate during the night.

 Each unit’s electronics are powered by an array of solar panels that sits between the envelope and the hardware.  In full sun,these panels produce 100 Watts of power enough to keep the unit running while also charging a battery for use at night.  By moving with the wind and charging in the sun, Network Balloons are able to power itself using ony renewable energy sources.  A parachute attached to the top of the envelope allows for a controlled descent and landing whenever a balloon is ready to be taken out of service.

How Balloons connects?

 Project Loon balloons travel around 20 km above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere. Winds in the stratosphere are generally steady and slow-moving at between 5 and 20 mph, and each layer of wind varies in direction and magnitude.  Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction.  By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.

 Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40km in diameter at speeds comparable to 3G.  Each balloon is equipped with a GPS for tracking its location.  Three radio transceivers.  balloon to balloon communication.  balloon to ground communication.  Third for backup.  Uses antennas equipped with specialized radio frequency technology and currently uses ISM bands that are available for anyone to use.

How Internet services recieved?  Signals are transmitted from the balloons to a specialized Internet antenna mounted to the side of a home or business.  The Internet antenna is connected to a consumer grade router. Web traffic that travels through the balloon network is ultimately relayed to our local telecommunications partners’ ground stations, where it connects to pre-existing Internet infrastructure.

How long does balloons last ?  Each balloon is designed to stay up for 100 days or three trips around the globe.  Balloon material as rubber-band like, with each balloon requiring 500 square meters of the stuff were made out of polyethylene film,  Balloons must be exceptionally hardy, since they will be subject to both hot and cold extremes on a daily basis, causing the material to stretch and contract.  Ultraviolet radiation and inclement weather are also problems that the balloons must contend with, as they could lead to pinhole leaks and more serious destructive forces.

How do Balloons provide stable coverage?  It could use wind currents at different levels of the stratosphere to control where balloons move and ensure that the "flock" remains evenly spaced out. That, in turn, would make sure that people down below don't have to wait for one of the airborne antennas to pass overhead before loading the internet.  By using publicly-available wind data, balloons can know when to increase or decrease in altitude to catch the current and stay in the right spot. The flock itself would continue to travel across the world ,most of the winds in the stratosphere travel west to east but a steady stream of balloons, evenly spaced out, could maintain stable internet access in areas targeted by the program.

How do Balloons use wind data?  They tracks via GPS and can remotely steer, are flying at the same speed as the wind currents.  Data regarding predicted stratospheric wind directions comes from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) .

How does antenna receive a clear signal?  Polarization means direction of electromagnetic waves are oscillating with the wind.  To avoid this cross-polorization issue,2 antenna are placed to receive signals driving in any direction and making their bandwith double.

What if there is equipment failure in air? • The easiest method to make balloon down to lift the valve at the top to release all the helium gas descending it at centric position. • In the event of an unexpected landing, every Loon balloon is equipped with a parachute and a pilot shoot.At first pilot shoot smaller in size will open catching the air and puts the main parachute to open.

Challenges • Its biggest obstacle is not technology but politics. • Google wants to build a network that knows no borders. Not only does Google want to implement it in every country with an underserved internet population, but the network itself will be stateless, coasting from continent to continent. • If the balloons are circling over the bottom half of the world, eventually the balloon that’s over North America will pass over China and Middle-East countries. • There might be spying and security threat over data.

Conclusion • Wi-fi encircling entire geographical barrier is always a boost to the Internet and Project Loon by Google is the great initiative towards that. • It will have to use spectrum, which is tightly regulated by the world’s governments. It can’t just use any old spectrum either. It will have to convince hundreds of different regulators to agree on a unified band. • Google plans are sky high but as we say “Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

Thank You TechX-Snehal Parikh

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