At a certain point, one begins to wonder when internet access will just be a common ‘thing’ in our American lives, like electricity and access to clean water. (I know not everybody, even in the U.S., has all that, but go with me here.) And large tech companies are doing their best to get us to that point.
While Facebook is busy trying out a drone strategy to provide internet access to poor and/or far flung communities, Google is going the way of the weather balloon, and there are hints that they are ready to test things out in the U.S.
According to reports from multiple websites including Android Authority and Business Insider, Google’s “Project Loon” is getting ready to start its U.S. run. Project Loon is a “moonshot” under the Google X banner designed to provide internet access to rural and remote areas through a 4G-LTE wireless network emanating from a series of high-altitude (11 miles in the stratosphere) weather balloons.
Papers filed with the Federal Communications Commission by Google request a license to “test experimental radios” in the United States and Puerto Rico. The request was filed by Astro Teller, head of Google X Labs.
Although the plan for Project Loon is for rural and poor areas without internet access, the request for the U.S. license makes sense in that the new internet-weather-balloon business needs to partner with telecommunications companies to start making money and become a feasible business model.
The project has already been tested in New Zealand, with Indonesia and Sri Lanka on the list of places where more testing will occur.
The tests in the U.S. will start January 1st, and last up to 24 months, so while Google’s efforts at widespread internet access may be exciting, their plans coming to fruition is still a long ways off.