Google working on Project Skybender; will beam 5G Internet from solar-powered planes

Google's Project Skybender will beam high-speed 5G Internet via solar-powered planes, and the company is testing out the same in New Mexico.

By: Tech Desk | Updated: February 1, 2016 12:46 pm
Google, Google Project Skybender, Project Skybender, Google 5G internet planes, Google Project Titan, Google 5G Internet, 5G internet, Google Titan planes Google’s Project Skybender will see it beam down 5G speed Internet from solar-powered planes.

Google plans to beam down high-speed 5G Internet via solar-powered planes, and is testing out the same in New Mexico, reports The Guardian.

Google is calling it Project Skybender, adds the report and is using an “optionally piloted plane called Centaur” along with solar-powered drones by Google Titan. The search giant acquired the Titan Aerospace company in 2014 and at MWC 2015 indicated that the drones would start conducting their first-tests to beam down Internet from the skies.

Project Skybender is taking this to the next level, with the focus being on high-speed 5G Internet. The Guardian report, notes that Google has set up its own flight control system at Spaceport America in New Mexico, which is incidentally the site where Virgin Galatic is supposed to start testing its flights meant for space travel.

The report adds that Google’s 5G internet relies on “high frequency millimetre waves” which in theory can transmit GBs worth of data every second, but have a much shorter wave-length than current mobile signals, which means they fade away in seconds. Google needs to ensure “focused transmissions”, which are difficult and energy-consuming, says the report.

Google is not the only company testing drones that can beam down the Internet. Facebook’s Project Aquila will see solar-powered planes, with wingspan bigger than a Boeing 737, beam down Internet from the skies. These planes, which can stay up for months will cruise at 60,000 ft, much higher than commercial aircrafts, and have a footprint of 100 km diameter.

Then there’s Google own Project Loon, which plans to beam Internet from the skies via giant floating balloons. Project Loon balloons will travel in the stratosphere, approximately 20 km above the Earth’s surface, latching on to layers of wind as directed by software algorithms to determine where they need to go. In the end, they will form one large communications network.

Also see: Google’s Project Loon to Facebook Aquila: Everything you need to know about Internet from the skies

The inflatable envelopes are made from sheets of polyethylene plastic, 15 metres wide and 12 metres tall when fully inflated. They are designed to stay up for at least 100 days in one go.

Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40 km in diameter using LTE. Project Loon partners with telecom companies to share cellular spectrum. Google recently announced that plans to bring Project Loon to India, but security concerns were raised.

Read more: 5G: It’s not just about a faster Internet

The Indian Express, however reported that the government is likely to allow Google Project Loon in India, provided it doesn’t create a security issue.

“We must be liberal in permitting experimentation of new technology for connectivity. Let there be pilots, Project Loon and Microsoft’s project (White Spaces), let the new experimentation happen… When the results come, we will take policy initiatives consistent with security requirements. I am very open with experimentation of new products,” Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad was quoted as saying.

Microsoft’s White Spaces project proposes to utilise the unused spectrum from television for internet connectivity.

Must read: Govt says BSNL will help Google’s Project Loon take flight in Indiaa>

Additional read: Let’s forget 4G for a minute. This is what your 5G world will look like