Google’s Project Loon Originally Designed To Bring More Bandwidth To The Well-Off

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News Posted: Sat, Nov 16 2013 2:52 PM

This past summer, Google unveiled one of its coolest (and craziest) projects to date. Called "Project Loon", Google hopes that in time, balloons might help bring the Internet to parts of the world where it's just not common, or affordable. These balloons would soar in the sky at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft, and trek around the globe on a continual basis while beaming the Internet down to users.

Overall, the technology behind Project Loon is undeniably cool, and if it helps to get the Internet - a rather important resource today - to those without easy access to it, it's hard to see that as a bad thing. One combatant of the tech though is Bill Gates, who believes third-world countries need other things much more than the Internet - it's hard to disagree there, and it's a tough subject to debate.

As great as Google's intentions are with Project Loon, a newly-published (but filed last summer) patent shows us that the company had other plans for the technology originally. Titled "Balloon Clumping to Provide Bandwidth Requested in Advance", the patent would be put to use for those who are willing to spend more on their mobile Internet access, so as to overcome common issues with regular coverage.

If you have access to mobile Internet, you've no doubt run into an instance where the pipes are so clogged - so to speak - that you simply can't even load up an email. An issue like that is no surprise given the number of people trying to do the same exact thing - or uploading a photo to Facebook, tweeting their location, and so forth.

Google would have (and still could, for all we know) used balloons to get rid of this issue for those willing to pay. While everyone else struggles and curses at their phone, you'd effectively be placed in a priority line where traffic is nonexistent in comparison.

Of course, Google is a business, and businesses seek to earn revenue, so while Project Loon's original purpose might not have been so humanitarian, this is one of those examples where a commercial venture can end up helping out with a genuinely good cause.

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Dave_HH replied on Sat, Nov 16 2013 4:45 PM

I'd bet dollars to donuts they're still considering this as a significant functionality of the system. Just float these suckers over CES 2014 and you get instant advertising and happy press folks! Ha!

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RWilliams replied on Sat, Nov 16 2013 4:49 PM

CES is the first thing that came to mind ;-)

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