Some companies provide food to people in countries who need it, others may donate supplies to build homes or schools, and some may send doctors or medical supplies to help the sick. Google is taking a different approach, using their technology skills to bring the internet to Africa via blimps.
The company’s goal is to connect nearly 1 billion people across Africa and Asia to the internet with high-flying blimps and balloons. The Google blimps are beneficial because they can cover a wider area while remaining cost-efficient. Google has created an ecosystem of smartphones that are low-cost with low processing-power, and the signals are carried by the balloons. Google also is asking the local government regulators for permission to use television airwaves for their project, because these waves are better at transferring signals through buildings and across large areas of land than traditional WiFi infrastructure.
Google isn’t the first to propose a plan that uses balloons and blimps. Afghanistan already uses blimp technology for surveillance purposes by scanning wide areas that wouldn’t be possible or as simple with other forms of ground technology. The U.S. military is also involved in cloud-type projects involving blimps, and the Army uses them for communication. Instead of using traditional satellites to communicate back and forth with troops on the ground, which is very expensive, they use Combat SkySat balloons.
Google has begun a trial launch of their blimps in South African schools to test how well the new technology performs.
– Katie Brockman