Google Loon – Internet access solution
Google Loon is a project where a network of balloons are put between 18 and 40kms in the air providing Internet access to the world from specific land based ISP’s. It is currently being trailed here in Christchurch. More details about the project are here http://www.google.com/loon/
The idea being that the balloons will travel in the air over the world giving Internet access to the world without the expensive and intruding cell towers and digging up roads and earth to place cable in the ground.
As we see here in New Zealand, many rural communities still have no Internet access or even cell phone coverage. Sometimes, despite the fact that a fibre optic cable is placed down a main highway, often the small townships miss out on an Internet connection all together. One case is Arahura in the West Coast of the South island where a fibre optic cable is meters away from homes who have no Internet, despite constant calls to Chorus to rectify the issue.
There are global benefits of Google Loon that will give populations such as Africa a chance to use the Internet. But this is a chance for New Zealand and the millions of dollars spent on Internet access, especially to rural and Maori to work with Google to ensure that the most efficient manner of Internet access is provided.
We need government and Iwi to realise these facts now and for organisations such as Nga Pu Waea to reconsider their effectiveness and cost benefits. Instead of millions of dollars into specialised groups; commercial arrangements with Google and the Government would be more economical and provide a future economy for New Zealanders.
The 4G spectrum issues Maori are facing with court action and another lengthy battle are perhaps myopic. Perhaps Maori should be looking at investing in Loon technology as well as spectrum? Both technologies will provide long term employment and opportunities that can be used anywhere in the world.
Google Loon if successful will provide all the same benefits as spectrum and broadband combined to everyone in the world. In New Zealand the economic/social/cultural possibilities are endless. One issue I do see is a lack of a landline telephones in the home and lack of cell phone coverage in Maori rural areas. With Google Loon, a smart phone using the Internet could be used as a landline, cell phone and computer while at the same time enabling online education, whanau connectivity and a myriad of employment and investment opportunities.
Google are inviting communities interested to participate in this project to register on their site. I would encourage rural communities to participate http://www.google.com/loon/where/.