Google could be preparing to expand Project Loon tests across U.S.: report
|Engineers test Loon balloons in super-cold environments. (Image source: Google)|
The filing doesn't mention Loon by name, but various publications are connecting it to Loon because the name listed on the application is Astro Teller, whose title is Captain of Moonshots. He has overseen the Google X labs where Loon is being worked on, along with other "moonshot" things like autonomous cars and drones that are now part of Google parent company Alphabet.
Business Insider also pointed out that the most recent filing builds on testing the company previously did in Winnemucca, Nev. In August 2014, one month before Google's first FCC request for a license to test in Winnemucca, published minutes of the Winnemucca City Council revealed a proposal to let Google use its airport industrial park as a "temporary balloon launching facility."
The most recent FCC filings show Google wants to use 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz spectrum, which work best over short distances, suggesting Google may want to use the millimeter wave radios for balloon-to-balloon communications and LTE to beam the Internet service back down to Earth, Business Insiderreports.
At Google's I/O conference last spring, engineers on a panel about engineering for the stratosphere talked about how in the early days, balloon prototypes usually wouldn't make it too far from California, but they tracked one over Kentucky, where YouTube alerts about UFO sightings started popping up around the same time. The local news showed an image of one of the balloons as part of the "UFO" coverage.
A year ago, Project Loon Director Mike Cassidy told Slate that he anticipated the first customers in rural South America, southern Africa or Oceania would be able to sign up for cellular LTE service provided by Google balloons by 2016.
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