The French space agency, CNES, on Dec. 11 said it is partnering with Google on the Google X Project Loon to deploy more than 100,000 balloons in the stratosphere to provide high-speed Internet to regions without it.
CNES has maintained an active balloon launch program for studies of upper-atmospheric air currents, the chemical composition of the atmosphere at specific altitudes and other purposes, launching as many as 20 balloons a month.
Google Vice President Mike Cassidy, in charge of the Loon project, said the company is evaluating multiple designs for Loon, with CNES and others.
“No single solution can solve such a big, complex problem,” Cassidy said. “That’s why we’re working with experts from all over the world, such as CNES, to invest in new technologies like Project Loon that can use the winds to provide Internet to rural and remote areas.”
The balloons provide wireless Internet using the same LTE protocol used by cellular devices. Google has said that the balloons can serve data at rates of 22 megabits per second to fixed antennas, and five megabits per second to mobile handsets.