Years ago now Google quietly announced its “Loon Balloon Project” in New Zealand. The objective was to launch high altitude balloons that could potentially float over areas of the globe that did not yet have Internet access. The tech press predicted that the idea was “loony” indeed, though some called it “crazy cool.” Google has since also dabbled with the idea of low earth orbit satellites to achieve the same goal. With the rise of SpaceX, this seems an even more interesting technological approach, though other firms in the 1990s lost large amounts of money and failed.  A modest aerospace company and a subsidiary of Airbus in Toulouse France is manufacturing low-orbit internet access satellites, hoping to launch as many as 650 such satellites. The idea that is captivating me is the potential for space-based Internet access to potentially provide an alternative to growing political and corporate control and Balkanization of the Internet.

The post below caught my attention because of the current industry debate and competitive battle over deployment of much higher Gigabit Internet bandwidth via optical fiber to consumers, known as Fiber to the Home or FTTH, at prices much lower than they currently pay for even 50 Megabit Internet connectivity. Gigabit connectivity is already a reality in Hong Kong and South Korea, with Europe not far behind. The big cable carriers, Comcast and Time Warner, have actually argued publicly that consumers don’t want or need higher bandwidth. How they came to that conclusion is a mystery. Now Google has entered into direct competition with the cable carriers, deploying Gigabit FTTH in Kansas City and Austin, Texas to be followed by other locations, at prices a fraction of Comcast’s pricing for lower bandwidth.

At an absolute minimum, Google has scored a PR coup with their blog announcement of “Project Loon,” a trial of Internet Wifi via balloons floating in the stratosphere over New Zealand. You may have already seen, heard or read about this, as the story has appeared in much of the mainstream media, albeit without much journalistic scrutiny. The Loon project has also been covered extensively in the tech “blogosphere” (pun intended). From my reading, only very few journalists have delved into the devil of the details, and asked serious questions, which remain largely unanswered. It is probably not in Google’s best interest to say too much more, as they have already favorably established the Loon Project in the media. The Kiwi’s have a term for this kind of project. They are known in New Zealand as “#8 Wire” projects. Read on and I will explain.