Project Loon

Google has announced Project Loon, an experiment to use balloons aloft at about 60,000 feet / 20 km to provide broadband wireless Internet service to the hinterlands.  The Loon moniker is somewhat of an admission that the project is a bit crazy and a play on the word balloon, but it does have a sound technological foundation.  The technology is much cheaper than satellites and naturally easier to launch.


The experiment is beginning this month with the launch of a handful of balloons from New Zealand which will orbit about the 40th parallel and navigate around New Zealand using varying direction and magnitude air currents at various levels.  Beta testers have been selected in New Zealand to try out the system.

The idea of using aircraft to provide wireless services isn’t new, and radio amateurs have been launching experimental balloons with radios for quite awhile although recently there has been an upshot in interest.  Google is known for using open source software and contributing open source technology back to the community.  I’m curious if Google will open source the hardware, perhaps enabling amateur radio to benefit with its own balloon network similar to this someday.  Current typical amateur radio balloon missions last only a few days.  Having several balloons aloft could perhaps be an alternative to satellites which are becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to launch.

The Project Loon site has a nice video detailing the project here.

Anthony, K3NG, is a regular contributor to

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: