Two more milestones have been made by Project Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., Engadget reports. The company, known for its “internet-by-balloon” offerings, was able to push data packets across seven of its balloons at 1,000 kilometers, or a little over 620 miles.
Project Loon also broke another record on its “point-to-point,” or the point where one lone balloon connects to another: increasing the reach to 600 kilometers from 100 kilometers. The company told Engadget that this is its longest point-to-point link to date. “Their accuracy is equivalent to throwing a ball 100 meters and landing it in a wastebasket. In this case, however, the wastebasket was in constant motion in the stratosphere,” Engadget says.
One of the key benefits to Project Loon’s internet-by-balloon initiative is that it’s creating a “floating mesh network” that brings end users internet connectivity. “Rather than daisy-chaining from the first balloon and then the last after the initial ground-based connection, the balloons in between those are fully capable of broadcasting a signal as well,” Engadget says.
Project Loon first made waves when it helped deliver basic internet to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria wiped out the island. The company, which partnered with AT&T and T-Mobile for this, was able to bring internet to over 100,000 Puerto Ricans. Through this partnership, Project Loon was able to launch these balloons from Nevada, using learning algorithms to send them to Puerto Rico.
From both its recent milestones and work with Puerto Rico, Project Loon is continuing to work on its balloon technology, especially their ability to keep the balloons in place to deliver sustained internet connectivity, and gain familiarity with air currents. The company is also working on extending service to people located outside of the balloons’ reach. “In this way, we create a web of connectivity to serve users without having to build lots of new infrastructure on the ground, which is a significant obstacle to bringing traditional access to unconnected and under-connected communities around the world,” Project Loon’s blog says.