Wireless Balloons For Real This Time Or Still Just Hot Air?

from the tinfoil-balloon dept

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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Comments on “Wireless Balloons For Real This Time Or Still Just Hot Air?”

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Ivan Sick says:

Re: Re: Re: State Slogan for North Dakota

Hard to know what the down side might be without seeing an actual deployment. The obvious answer would be weather interference with signal and the physical condition of the balloon. Tho’ they say it can be :launched in all types of weather”–I assume they’d say the balloons will survive in “all types of weather” too.

Mark says:

No Subject Given

Gee…I wonder if, lacking Cellular coverage, such places still have the old duplex fm radiophone system still in place. Or a housewife monitoring her CB radio to make phone calls for those in trouble on the road. I think the lack of deployments indicates the lack of actual profit potential in those areas. Maybe Original Wireless still has a use afterall.

Mike Brown (user link) says:

What's the downside?

As a pilot, I find the proliferation of towers in recent years to be more than a little hazardous, but at least current cell towers are short enough (to create the small cells) so that they’re not a really big deal if you stay more than the minimum 500′ up (1,000 feet in congested areas).

I’m not wild about the idea that any cell company can easily put up a balloon at any height which won’t appear on any aero chart.

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