Project Loon could be hot air balloon

AlphabetGoogle, or rather holding company Alphabet, has said it will invest money to give people in poorer countries internet access.

The idea is to put solar powered helium balloons into the stratosphere to provide a wireless 900MHz spectrum and that will let people with LTE smartphones access the service. It’s called Project Loon.

But Joe Hoffman, a VP of strategic technology at ABI Research, said that the project faces several challenges.

Hoffman said: “If Project Loon is economically successful, it may have a five to ten year project lifetime as the worldwide population continues to urbanise and 4G networks migrate outwords.”

He said other challenges include price points will be difficult. “How can the porject aim to deliver mobile broadband service at ordinary mobile cellular prices or lower?”

Other difficults mean that the systems are supposed to generate 100 watts from solar power but that will create challenging power limits on both the transmitter and the on board electronics.

Other challenges include developing algorithms for mapping balloon positions, having a strategy if the weather is bad and relying on non PC resource helium.

Despite all of this, Hoffman said Alphabet is being creative. “Reaching the unserved will be technically and economically challenging, but if there is one company that can break through these barriers and be successful, it is Alphabet.”