Friday, December 15, 2006

Another old chestnut comes floating by broadband by balloon.

Now I actually think some remote parts of Africa etc will actually use some
sort of tethered balloon system for communications. Mozambique was
considering some for cell phone communications. The system to stay in place
until towers were built.

Broadband from on high, well, humm. Back in Kenya we finally had satellite
data and the BBC guys there had $300 laptop size systems that were quick and
more than adequate.

Perhaps other technologies are going to beat blimps to the finishing line.

This is my favourite use of blimps though

Broadband By Blimp Company Still Full Of Hot Air

from the oh-god-the-network-is-down dept

For going on five years now a company named Sanswire Networks has been
issuing press releases every six months or so, promising the world broadband
via "Stratellites"; giant airships positioned 64,000 feet up, able to
provide broadband and wireless service to a land mass roughly the size of
Texas. Despite the fact they've never actually built or launched one,
they've boldly proclaimed that a Stratellite should cost roughly $30 million
to launch, compared to a satellite's $250 million launch price-tag. After
years of empty promises and talk of South American launches that never
actually happened, the first prototype was unveiled last April, with ongoing
testing the past several months. These latest tests leave plenty to be
desired. They're conducted in tame 3 mph California winds, last just hours,
and the airships used are a fifth the size of what was supposed to be
delivered. They also fail to mention exactly how high the airship was -- so
we'll assume not very. That's a far cry from an airship that can
intelligently sit at 12 miles up for 18 months at a time, offering low
latency broadband to the happy campers below. The company says the tests
were conducted in "ideal conditions", but a sunny, windless day doesn't seem
like the ideal testbed for a company really looking to prove the viability
of this sort of product. The company's latest press release also says the
tethered test "demonstrates the effectiveness of delivering communications
via the processes the Company had all along envisioned." Demonstrating that
VoIP works from a toy balloon floating in the California sun is light-years
away from proving that "blimpband' is an idea fit for serious commercial

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