Google’s internet balloons launch in New Zealand.
30 balloons were launched from Tekapo, New Zealand this week as part of a larger plan to “connect the 2 out of every 3 people on Earth” who don’t have an internet connection.
The balloons are solar powered, and expand to 15 meters in diameter when fully inflated. At 20km high, the balloons are well above commercial aircraft and most weather activity.
Google chose New Zealand to show how the technology could be deployed in a remote area (and possibly to have a vacation in an awesome spot - I’m going to Tekapo this week too!). The nearby city of Christchurch also suffered power and internet outages after earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, so Google is aiming to show how the system could quickly deploy to provide internet access in a disaster.
The next step in the trial is to have a string of up to 300 balloons forming a ring on the 40th parallel south from New Zealand through Australia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.