Google Tells Feds Project Loon Tests Will Be Harmless To Humans, Environment

30 January 2016, 10:48 pm EST By Sumit Passary Tech Times
Google informs the FCC that Project Loon does not pose any threat to humans or the environment. The project is aimed at providing Internet connectivity to remote and rural areas.  ( Project Loon | YouTube )

Google tells federal regulators that its Project Loon does not pose any risk to the environment or humans.

Project Loon is a research and development project, which is being developed by Google X. The project is aimed at providing Internet access to remote and rural areas. Project Loon uses high-altitude balloons, which are placed in the stratosphere for creating an aerial wireless network with speeds as fast as 4G LTE.

However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received informal objections about Project Loon. Some objections are related to harmful effects of the project on humans and the environment. Some companies have also objected that Project Loon may interfere with their wireless operations.

Google sent a letter to the FCC assuring that Project Loon does not pose any risk to humans or environment. Google says that some parties worry that radio frequency (RF) from Project Loon testing will harm plants, animals and humans, who are in the vicinity where the test is conducted.

"The proposed experimental operations in fact present vastly less risk from RF exposure than other transmissions the Commission routinely authorizes. Thus, although we respect that the commenters' concerns are genuinely held, there is no factual basis for them," says Google.

The balloons are designed to float at a height of about 60,000 feet over areas, which has limited or no Internet Service Providers (ISP). The balloons will be receiving and sending signals from antennas that will be ground-based.

The filing to FCC also suggests that antennas will be pointing to the sky and not towards the ground for receiving and sending signals. Moreover, signals sent from balloons located at a distance of 60,000 feet will hardly be of any risk to humans.

"Even if an airborne transmitter were aimed precisely at a person on the ground directly below it, the signal strength received on the ground would be millions of times weaker than FCC limits," says Google.

While Google has been working on Project Loon since 2013, the company has not confirmed any plans of deploying it anywhere in the world. Google's Project Loon started as a pilot experiment in June 2013 and the company launched 30 balloons in New Zealand in coordination with local authorities.

The project is ongoing and Google is planning to send hundreds of more balloons in the stratosphere in an attempt to test Internet connectivity in remote areas of Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile. Project Loon's success may see thousands of balloons flying in the stratosphere in the near term.

Check out a short video on Project Loon.

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