That’s according to Astro Teller, head of the Google X lab, the company established with the purpose of working on “moon shot” research projects. He spoke at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in Cambridge today.
Teller said that the balloon project, known as Project Loon, was on track to meet the goal of demonstrating a practical way to get wireless Internet access to billions of people who don’t have it today, mostly in poor parts of the globe.
Teller said Google should soon have enough balloons aloft to prove that the idea is workable. “In the next year or so we should have a semi-permanent ring of balloons somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.
Google first revealed the existence of Project Loon in June 2013 and has tested Loon Balloons, as they are known, in the U.S., New Zealand, and Brazil. The balloons fly at 60,000 feet and can stay aloft for as long as 100 days, their electronics powered by solar panels. Google’s balloons have now traveled more than two million kilometers, said Teller.
The balloons provide wireless Internet using the same LTE protocol used by cellular devices. Google has said that the balloons can serve data at rates of 22 megabits per second to fixed antennas, and five megabits per second to mobile handsets.
Google’s trials in New Zealand and Brazil are being conducted in partnership with local cellular providers.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.