In something that sounds more like children’s fiction than reality, Google parent company Alphabet has teamed up with an internet service provider in Peru to establish wireless broadband in some of the most remote parts of the world, via huge hot air balloons.
According to a report by the Register, Alphabet-owned subsidiary Loon will send a fleet of giant polyethylene hot air balloons out across the Amazon to provide internet to people living in the remote jungles.
Loon has teamed up with Internet Para Todos Perú (IpT) to provide the internet, in a deal that was announced this week.
At roughly the size of a tennis court, each balloon carries a series of batteries, antennas and solar panels to transmit broadband from a ground station across the balloon mesh network, beaming signals back down to a user’s mobile phone at LTE speeds. They maintain their position by rising and falling to catch different wind direction, a technique Loon has been perfecting for years.
The Loon balloons are built to last around 100 days or so before deflating, at which point the hardware floats back down to the ground using a parachute.
Loon and IpT will focus on setting up the balloon network over the Loreto Region in the Peruvian Amazonian forest, an area where 200,000 locals live.
A quarter of the population there doesn’t have access to 3G service or even a reliable mobile network service.
“Internet para Todos was born with the purpose of connecting millions of Latin Americans, including 6 million Peruvians without adequate access to mobile internet,” IpT chief executive Teresa Gomes said in a statement.
“This challenge involves reaching difficult access areas with innovative and sustainable technologies that allow us to overcome geographical, technological and economic complexities. Thanks to this agreement with Loon, we will extend the mobile internet access to more Peruvians with disruptive technology,” Gomes added.
The arrival of wireless broadband in the rainforest comes after an uneasy year for the region in battling another internet giant: Amazon itself.
Back in May the world’s largest internet-based retailer closed in on a battle against Brazil and an alliance of Southern American countries to own the ‘.amazon’ domain.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said it decided to proceed with the designation requested by Amazon Inc., after waiting 12 years for the two sides to resolve their dispute.