With the gigantic Internet-balloons: Google's biggest radio closes the hole of the world

a Few kilometres North of Nairobi, where the houses stop changing the landscape. Paved roads, soft dirt roads, a few bushes stand out from the brown Sand on roa

With the gigantic Internet-balloons: Google's biggest radio closes the hole of the world

a Few kilometres North of Nairobi, where the houses stop changing the landscape. Paved roads, soft dirt roads, a few bushes stand out from the brown Sand on road edge. Somewhere 20 kilometres through this barren landscape float in the past few weeks balloons. From the ground, they are not to be seen, their effect is noticeable. Many Kenyans now have LTE reception on their Smartphones.

The Google parent company, Alphabet, has rolled out for the first Time his project "Loon" commercial out. A fleet of - your appearance to – 35 weather balloon serves as a floating cell towers 20 kilometers altitude. For seven years, their technical perfection needed. It starts with the case of the size of a tennis court: it consists of a mixture of Polyetyhlen and Kevlar, and is only 0.3 mm thick. Filled the case with Helium. That's enough to the balloons to hold about 100 days in the air, then you have to land for maintenance. A balloon should fall, to prevent parachute damage to the floor.

the Internet work balloons

The technology on Board sends the LTE Signal in a Radius of about 20 kilometers. In Kenya Loon covers an area of around 80,000 square kilometers. This is a little more than the size of Bavaria. Because the balloon moves in the Wind, you must coordinate the fleet to each other. Algorithms ensure that the flying broadcasting stations always have contact with each other, and a large area on the ground cover.

Because the winds in the stratosphere within a few meters of altitude, it is sufficient for the Navigation of the balloons to change their height to a minimum. Various gases are pumped into the balloon or sucked, with which the density of the entire construct or decreases. The necessary equipment on Board is powered by a solar panel and a battery with electrical energy. Loon In the stratosphere, the wind direction changes within a few meters of altitude. So the whole balloon is On a fleet-or down control to selectively hold it in Position.

The exact speed of the LTE access Loon is silent. On the website it says only roughly, the access was sufficient, though, for Videos and Video-telephony. The latency is expected to be at 0.17 Milli-seconds, considerably faster than, for example, a satellite solution would be to and approximately at the level of a glass fiber cable.

it is Unclear how much the Kenyans for Loon have to pay. The US company only cooperates with a single Provider in the country – Kenya Telecom. The analysis of company ARK Invest estimates that Loon would expect umgechnet 3,60 Euro per month and the customer. This, however, would be only the fee for the use of the balloons. End-customers in Kenya would have to pay the normal LTE Tariff of your Provider. The is currently at a minimum of 2.20 euros for 2 gigabytes of volume. For a country with an average monthly income of the equivalent of 546 euros gross which is a lot of money.

a Maximum of 40 percent of Africans have Internet access

Loon, originally a project of Google's visionary daughter company "X" is now part of the Alphabet-the mother group. The balloons were used and tested in new Zealand and Brazil, 2017 in Puerto Rico for the first time after hurricane "Maria" had destroyed the telephone lines. But her real goal is the from the Internet untapped areas of the earth – and most of them are located in Africa.

1.3 billion people live here and few of them have access to the Internet or even LTE reception on a Smartphone. Reliable Figures are not available, because many countries can not provide the appropriate data, but experts such as Thomas Bayer estimate that only 25 to 40 percent of Africans via the Internet have access. "In many cases this means that they share in families with a access, or there are in the village, an Internet Café," says the Professor of the Africa Institute of the University of applied Sciences Neu-Ulm. Loon The case of the Google Internet balloons are as big as a tennis court.

Often, would pay to a conventional Development with land lines and mobile phone masts barely. In Kenya is about – the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, the exception of only 72 people per square kilometer. Berlin would be settled just as thin, it would have only 64,000 residents.

in Addition, the access is depending on countries and circumstances are very different. "Smartphones you can use actually only in the big cities," says Elmar Steurer, also a Professor at the Africa Institute in Neu-Ulm. Outside, there is, perhaps, in countries such as South Africa or Nigeria, still good reception, in the poorer regions of Central Africa, it is but even with the old GSM Standard is difficult. Much also depends on the political System of a country, Cameroon, and Somalia, for example, the Internet is switched off from time to time at the behest of the government in regions, the rebel is too strong.

Alphabet, Facebook, SpaceX, China: Who wants to earn everything in Africa

to win In this difficult situation just a Loon trying for a long time, new customers and profit streams. How well they can work, shows Southeast Asia: "From Japan to Indonesia, all the countries are in the hands of the US Tech companies," says Steurer, "this is the blueprint for Africa."

Alphabet itself, laid about also submarine cables that connect Africa to the Rest of the world. Over thousands of miles leads a group at the East African coast of France, through the Suez canal to South Africa. A second, of Portugal, based on the West coast, is in the planning stage.

other foreign powers to try to gain a foothold in Africa's digital boom foot. Elon Musks SpaceX project Starlink around to cover the whole world with an Armada of Internet-enabled satellites. 514 satellites have been shot so far in a low orbit, until 2027, the first Phase should be completed by 1584 satellite. However, here are stationary antennas on the ground are different than at Loon takes to the satellite for forwarding signals. Loon Internet balloons by Google to stay about 100 days in the air - then they need to be serviced.

Facebook has been working for years on the Software end of the development of the digital country broke. About the Initiative internet.org mobile phone owners in developing countries, rates book, which promised you a free access to the Internet. However, Facebook limited the access to a certain number of Services – in addition to its own products, about Wikipedia, Google and Accuweather. Against the wind of the Social Media giant was not from Africa, but from another developing country. The Indian regulator TRAI ban the Initiative in 2016, because this would violate the principles of net neutrality. Since then, Facebook's project is as good as dead. FOCUS Online / Shuang Liu DLDaily

digitalization has changed Germany for the better, if we get it right. At the digital conference DLD, the as FOCUS Online, Hubert Burda Media, discuss several times in the year leading experts about how digitisation can succeed. For DLDaily FOCUS Online have the whole year with people, the concepts for the digital future: with innovative politicians, visionary thinkers, creative entrepreneurs. We explain the new technologies and show how they can be in their professional and private lives. All DLDaily article, you can find here.

in addition to the US Tech giant in China working mainly on projects in Africa. Many infrastructure measures are in construction or planned, of roads to airports and military bases. For the digital area of the Beijing government before sending your giants Huawei, ZTE and China Telecom. In 14 African countries, the Asian Power is now active, determined by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Including the construction of an infrastructure of cellular towers and Backbones falls, as well as the establishment of Smart Cities between Morocco and Zimbabwe.

More Internet leads to a successful Tech scene

The foreign initiatives are positive for Africa, says Bayer. Countries with wider access to the Internet and a more open society would have formed in the past few years, a lively Tech Community, says the head of the Africa Institute. As an example of the globally acclaimed payment system M-Pesa by the Kenyan Provider Safaricom, in Kenya via SMS, even without a Bank account and receive money can be used to send is used. In Nigeria with Jumia, an "African Amazon", which has increased in the past year its turnover to 160 million euros and its customers by 50 percent to 6.1 million Africans.

"The countries cannot afford, therefore, to dispense with foreign investment," says Bayer. There is a residual risk remains for you but always. "It is important that the poor share in the resulting recovery," says Steurer. So far, this is widely the case. "What must not happen is that the Whole thing degenerates into a kind of 'digital colonialism'," says Bayer, to take advantage of the foreign powers in Africa, only in your advantage, instead of trying to develop it. "The Tech companies should not behave just the way we, as Europeans, in the past 150 years," said Steurer hoping.

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Updated Date: 06 August 2020, 21:26

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