Facebook successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That’s ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away. Facebook’s Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down Internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.
Aquila is “a very lightweight, very large wingspan aircraft capable of flying above normal airliners, above 60,000 feet, for up to three months at a time,” Andy Cox, engineering lead for the Facebook aviation team
Google working on long duration drones too and stratospheric balloons and global satellite
Google bought Titan in April, 2014 with plans to integrate the company into Project Loon, Google’s initiative to deliver Internet access from balloons to parts of the world with limited connectivity. Google is also reportedly planning to deploy low-orbit satellites to provide Internet access
Google signed up Sir Lanka as first country for internet from Stratospheric Balloons
Project Loon is a project being developed by Google with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.. The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 32 km (20 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds. It was named Project Loon, since Google itself found the very idea of providing internet access to the remaining 5 billion population unprecedented and “crazy.”
The balloons are maneuvered by adjusting their altitude to float to a wind layer after identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Users of the service connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal travels through the balloon network from balloon to balloon, then to a ground-based station connected to an Internet service provider (ISP), then onto the global Internet. The system aims to bring Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and to improve communication during natural disasters to affected regions
“Hopefully in a few months every person and every device on the island will be covered by 3G (third generation,” Deputy Economic Policy Minister Harsha de Silva said in his twitter feed.
Google Loon started by building much, much bigger balloons able to hold equipment capable of beaming connectivity 20 km down to the earth below—starting with our modestly larger early Albatross design, all the way up to our 141-foot-long Hawk and beyond. To ensure there’s always a balloon overhead to provide connection, we needed to build a system that can manufacture these balloons at scale, leading to our latest balloon design, the Nighthawk, the likes of which has never been seen before.
The French space agency, CNES, on Dec. 11 said it is partnering with Google on the Google X Project Loon to deploy more than 100,000 balloons in the stratosphere to provide high-speed Internet to regions without it.
CNES has maintained an active balloon launch program for studies of upper-atmospheric air currents, the chemical composition of the atmosphere at specific altitudes and other purposes, launching as many as 20 balloons a month.
Google Vice President Mike Cassidy, in charge of the Loon project, said the company is evaluating multiple designs for Loon, with CNES and others.
“No single solution can solve such a big, complex problem,” Cassidy said. “That’s why we’re working with experts from all over the world, such as CNES, to invest in new technologies like Project Loon that can use the winds to provide Internet to rural and remote areas.”
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.
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.
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