Google looks to LTE connectivity for latest Project Loon tests

Google looks to LTE connectivity for latest Project Loon tests
4G flying high in latest Project Loon tests

Google is activity exploring the feasibility of using 4G LTE radio spectrum for its balloon-based Project Loon moonshot, according to a report.

PCWorld has revealed the next phase of testing for the project, which aims to bring internet connectivity to remote areas by using a flock of balloons to beam Wi-Fi to the ground, is currently taking place in Nevada.

The report says Google has gained permission from the local government and the FCC to use two bands of licensed radio spectrum, plus a broad class spectrum, which all points to the use of LTE.

Up until now Google has been using the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi spectrum for previous tests in New Zealand, but it would appear the firm is keen on exploring the option of using 4G LTE for the project.

Doubling down

One reason for the LTE tests could conceivably be the unreliability of the 2.4GHz spectrum, which is susceptible to widespread interference.

However, if 4G LTE and WiFi were both used for a commercial Loon roll out, it may cause complications for Google as it would require approval from different sets of regulators, as PC World points out.

Google is yet to comment beyond the FCC filing, but local government officials are said to have confirmed the application is Loon related, with several balloon-based filings also made.

If you've yet to hear of Project Loon, it is one of the more outlandish 'moonshots' to emerge from the company's secretive X Labs.

Loon seeks to deploy a vast flock of thousands of balloons circumnavigating the globe, each carrying receivers that can beam Wi-Fi to antennas on the ground, solving the problem of zero connectivity for the majority of folks on the planet.

Chris Smith

A technology journalist, writer and videographer of many magazines and websites including T3, Gadget Magazine and He specializes in applications for smartphones, tablets and handheld devices, with bylines also at The Guardian, WIRED, Trusted Reviews and Wareable. Chris is also the podcast host for The Liverpool Way. As well as tech and football, Chris is a pop-punk fan and enjoys the art of wrasslin'.