What is Loon Internet Balloon?
What is Loon?
Loons are high altitude balloons that provide internet to remote areas. It is the third layer of connectivity ecosystem to help places with minimum reach receive connectivity with the rest of the world. These balloons that reach the stratosphere and provide internet connections to regions that were once thought unservable.
Why in News?
Loon’s internet-beaming balloon has recently set a new flight duration record. It made the longest balloon flight in the Stratosphere for 312 days. Loon earlier held the record for the longest balloon flight in the Stratosphere which was for 223 days in 2018 – 2019.
In May 2019, Loon’s HBAL703 balloon took off from Puerto Rico (South America) and finally landed in Baja, Mexico, in March 2020 after taking one round of the planet. It also flew across the majestic Pacific Ocean in its journey.
- These are manufactured by Alphabet, Google's parent company.
- These balloons reach up to 20 km above the Earth into the stratosphere
- They are the size of a mini aircraft when inflated
- The balloons are made from sheets of polyethene and are the size of tennis courts.
- The balloons are powered by solar panels and are controlled by software on the ground
- The attachments include solar panels, antennas and various other electronics
- The balloons beam internet down to the earth to provide connectivity to remotest of areas
- It delivers 4G LTE and 5G connectivity to the areas it is assigned to and is capable of covering 200 times more areas than land cell towers
The majority of people around the world still lack access to the internet or have only infrequent, intermittent access. Loon’s solution makes it possible for mobile network operators to cover these populations, unlocking new customers and business opportunities.
Services of Loon: Details
Kenya has already received the first commercial deployment of Loon this year. It would initially provide a 4G LTE network connection spread across 31,000-square-mile of central and western Kenya, including Nairobi.
Soon, Loon would begin its journey in the Amazon with the collaborative efforts of Telefónica.
The balloons have previously been used only in emergency situations. These were used successfully in Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria destroyed all the land cell towers.
By allowing phone companies to extend their coverage wherever needed, Loons would be able to offer countries with a cheaper option than laying cables or building cell towers.
This could be effective in third world countries like Africa, where only 28 per cent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people were registered to be using the internet in 2019.