President Joe Biden was called by a Governor of the U.S. to greenlight a plan to transmit the Internet to people in Cuba via high-altitude balloons when their government has blocked access.
Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Delivering Internet by Balloon
- Drawbacks of the Loon
- Significance and benefits of the Balloon networks
Delivering Internet by Balloon
- For years, Alphabet — the parent company of Google — worked to perfect an Internet-balloon division service called Loon, which was shut down in 2021 as it wasn’t commercially viable.
- The Loon balloons were effectively cell towers the size of a tennis court which floated 60,000 to 75,000 feet (18,000- 23,000 meters), above the Earth, well above commercial jetliner routes.
- Made of the commonplace plastic polyethylene, the balloons used solar panels for electricity and could deliver service to smartphones in partnership with a local telecom.
Drawbacks of the Loon
- Each balloon could serve thousands of people, but hey had to be replaced every five months or so because of the harsh conditions in the stratosphere.
- Also, the balloons could be difficult to control.
- It would need an unused band of spectrum, or radio frequencies, to transmit a connection, and spectrum use is typically controlled by national governments. Anyone trying this would have to find a free block of spectrum that wouldn’t be interfered with.
- Balloon- or drone-powered networks aren’t likely to be economical over the long term.
- Developing algorithms to appropriately map balloon positions, determining a good strategy to deal with unpleasant weather and addressing the concern of relying on the non-renewable resources are among other challenges.
Significance and benefits of the Balloon networks
- By allowing phone companies to expand their coverage where needed, the balloons are intended to offer countries a cheaper option than laying cables or building cell towers.
- They are able to bring Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and to improve communication during natural disasters to affected regions.
-Source: Indian Express