Wi-Fi From On High

Derek Markham highlights a potential solution for the lack of Internet access in developing countries:

Google has a plan to deliver the internet to everyone, using balloons that fly in the stratosphere and use specialized radio frequency technology to offer internet connectivity to the ground surrounding them using solar power. … The Project Loon balloons, measuring 12 by 15 meters, are carried on the winds at about 20km above the surface of the Earth, and can be directed by ascending or descending to an altitude that has winds moving in the preferred direction. The electronics are powered by an array of solar panels that are situated between the balloon envelope and the hardware, and the Loons are said to be capable of providing an internet connection on the ground in a 40km radius around their location.

Lisa Wade applauds:

The very first launch of a gas balloon was in 1783.  Two hundred and thirty years later, the company aims to deliver what is arguably the defining feature of our age — the internet — with helium-filled balloons.  That technology will then bring almost countless other technologies, such as medical advances and agricultural information, to people who are largely excluded from them now.  A fantastical plan.