Like its cousin broadband over powerlines, the idea of using balloons of some type to blanket areas with wireless coverage has gotten plenty of hype over the years, but has really done very little to actually back it up. The idea changes a little bit from time to time -- like from tethered balloons to giant broadband blimps, but the lack of deployments stays the same. The story's popped up again, this time in North Dakota, where companies plan to keep reusable balloons in the air over the state to cover it entirely with cellular phone service. They make the usual claims that it will be much more effective than building standard cell towers, that they can launch in any kind of weather, and that the technology will actually work -- but, again, like all the previous stories, don't really do much to prove it. Mobile operators would love nothing more than to cut the billions of dollars they spend every year on network infrastructure, so if this idea is so great, and has been around for so long, why isn't anybody using it?
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