Balloon power Internet for the masses
Currently there are only 2.7 billion people connected to the Internet. This covers most of the rural and developed areas on the globe leaving out a vast majority of people. While Internet is one of the main drivers which influences our day-to-day lives it does not reach everyone and this is exactly what organizations like Google and Internet.org are trying to address.
During the Mobile World Congress 2014 Mark Zuckerberg announced that he is working on an initiative with the goal to provide everyone in the world Internet access. The initiative is led through the Internet.org. Other players in this organization are among other Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericson. They will jointly work on different projects that will enable the grand goal for this organization. One of the key points that they will initially focus upon is to reduce data traffic used by apps and Internet services. Another focus area will be to reduce costs for data transport and ultimately make mobile connectivity cheaper.
Google has also announced that it is active in this area under the name of “Project Loon”. Google has the plan to lease solar power transmitters attached to helium balloons. These balloons will connect with operators as they pass over areas. This enables operators to provide coverage in areas where they have gaps. The spectrum that is used for Project Loon will be negotiated with operators. This creates a situation where the operator does not have to be concerned about the web giant entering their territory.
Project Loon did a small test in 2013 in New Sealand where they released several balloons to provide Internet to a small number of people participating. This was expanded to a larger usergroup over a wider area. This pilot will be further expanded in 2014 where they will try to create a ring of balloons on 40th latitude around the globe.
Google also has agreed to acquire Titan Aerospace a startup specialized in self-powered drones. These initiatives will enable Google to provide Internet access around the globe. This will be especially interested in emerging markets and open up ground for a whole set of services specifically targeting these areas. Google has indicated that the acquired technology is still in a proof of concept phase and not near production. Nevertheless it will provide way to create areas where Google can have atmospheric satellites beaming Internet to a specific area. Facebook also has been in discussion with Titan before but eventually closed a deal with the UK based company called Ascenta. Ascenta is providing similar technology as Titan Aerospace.
These emerging initiatives will enforce that we will even need to focus more on mobile websites as penetration of smart devices will even grow more versus the usage of desktop computing. Although there is a fair amount of criticism of people pointing out that we first need to resolve primary needs like resolving malaria diseases etc. It will be likely that these initiatives will provide input in shaping the future world.