Balloon Powered Internet: WiFi Coming from a Cloud Near You

Can you hear me now?

Whether you’re making a phone call, checking your emails, watching a viral cat video or online shopping, your connectivity relies on the cell towers that serving up your access to the internet.


Google’s Project Loon aims to provide a more magical way to provide unlimited WiFi. Think up, up and away: as in high-flying balloons.

In many communities, for every one person that’s online, two cannot connect. When you branch out to remote areas or third-world countries, the numbers only get worse. For every one tethered to the internet, 10,000 are off the grid permanently with no cell towers or broadband access. According to Google, that’s kind of a bummer.

What is Loon? Loon is one of the newest visions by Google to launch small WiFi-enabled balloons into the skies. Instead of designing land-based towers which only offer limited ranges, Loon will bring WiFi to areas on Earth that have no Internet access1.

The science behind Loon is far from cutting-edge. You simply inflate a balloon with hot air and suddenly it’s flying high in the sky. However, Google Loon offers a twist by hard-wiring WiFi devices on each balloon, offering connectivity via Long-Term Evolution (LTE) commonly used by wireless carriers. Loon balloons will meander 20 km above Earth and offer WiFi up to 40 km.

Remote farmers in New Zealand were some of the first to test Loon WiFi, giving them the ability to monitor weather forecasts to aid in the planning of their agricultural efforts3.

Google’s Loon balloons currently have a 100 day flight life before they run out of hot air. They’re each embedded with communication wires, giving Google the ability to control where each balloon flies and automatically trigger a parachute to fall back to Earth upon deflation. With the Loon’s first launch in New Zealand’s South Island a high-flying success, we can anticipate Google Loon taking flight in other countries around the globe.