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– Balloon Network –

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Google’s Loon brings internet-by-balloon to Kenya

A network of giant balloons will soon bring internet access to remote regions of rural Kenya.

Google’s sister-company Loon has announced its first commercial deal: partnering with Telkom Kenya to deliver connectivity to the region.


Balloons are used for numerous purposes, such as party decorations, toys, and weather balloons. Another important purpose is to provide wireless networks to the ground through balloons equipped with wireless transceivers in the sky. There are some attempts for that purpose. First, Shibata et al. proposed a new ballooned wireless mesh network system for disasters in 2009. The balloon typically floats around 40-100 m (130-300 ft) in the sky. It provides Internet connectivity over the IEEE 802.11b,g to mobile nodes on the ground. Second, the SkySite platform from Space Data Inc. widens cellular network coverages, and provides private networks over their own radio frequencies via balloons equipped with wireless transceivers in stratosphere. Third, Google officially unveiled Project Loon and launched the first experiments in New Zealand in June 2013. The balloons equipped with wireless transceivers hover at 20 km (12 mi) in stratosphere. They provide Internet access at up to 3G speed to rural and remote areas. The standard wireless protocol for mesh networks and the framework for UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) which are able to be applied to balloon networking are described because those two companies do not disclose their main algorithms of wireless mesh networks in the balloon networking. The IEEE 802.11s is an extension to the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless mesh networks. It integrates mesh networking services and protocols with the IEEE 802.11 at MAC Layer. Additionally, Morgenthaler et al proposed UAVNet, a framework for the autonomous deployment of wireless networked UAVs.







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