American balloons, is there any Internet technology that has not been explored in Cuba?

Miami (CBS Miami / AP)

Florida Gov. Ron Desantas called on President Biden’s administration this week to explain the plan to provide Internet access to people in Cuba through balloons when his government blocked access.

Can I deliver the Internet by balloon?

Yes. For years, Google has been working to perfect the Internet-balloon distribution service called Loon. He closed the project in January, saying it was not commercially viable.

Prior to its closure, Lon balloons were operating in mountainous areas in collaboration with local telecom telecom Kenya. The service also helped provide wireless connections in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island’s mobile network. Lonn collaborates with AT&T to provide services.

How does that work?

Lon balloons were effective for tennis court-sized cell towers. They floated 60,000 to 75,000 feet or 11 to 14 miles (18,000-23,000 meters or 18-22 km) above commercial airways. Solar panels made of conventional plastic polyethylene balloons are used for electricity and can be used in conjunction with local telecoms for smartphones.

Each balloon can serve thousands of people, the company said. However, due to complications in stratrophyll, they had to be replaced every five months or so. And the balloons can be difficult to control. In a December 2020 blog post, Salvatore Candido, Lone’s chief technology officer, wrote: “It was always difficult to explore balloons in the flat world.” The company developed algorithms to track wind patterns.

What tools were needed?

In addition to his own balloons, Lun said he needs a network connection with Telecom to provide services and equipment on the region’s land. He also needed permission from local regulators – something the Cuban government could not give him.

Is it possible to extend from a remote network?

Yes. In addition to the necessary ground connection, Loon used several balloons to extend the connections. In one 2018 test, Lun said the connection jumped 1,000 kilometers, or 620 miles, over 7 balloons. At other times, the two balloons connected more than 600 miles[600 km]or some 370 miles of wireless. Nearby Cuba and Florida are only about 100 miles (160 km) away.

Is that possible?

But experts are not sure how easy it will be to set up an internet service for Cuba in this way. Cuba needs unused bandages or radio waves to communicate with Cuba, and the use of diversity is traditionally regulated by national governments. Jacob Sharon, a mobile and wireless consulting firm in Mobius, said that anyone trying to do so should have free tissue.

Tim Farrar, a team of TMF affiliates with satellite communications consultant Balloon- or Drone-powered networks, will not be economically viable in the long run. Although they are ideal for connecting in disaster or war zones, their transmission capacity is not great – “certainly not enough to serve the entire Cuban people or so,” Farara said.

Another challenge: the Cuban government may try to block the signal.

Who was involved in the Cuban effort?

Dessantis will be joined on Thursday by two Cuban-American congressmen from the Miami area: Maria Salazar and Carlos Gimenes, FCC Commissioner Brenda Carr and Cuban American lawyer, businessman and museum director Marcel Felipe.

Philippe said he had been talking to a defense contractor who could deliver such balloons in the airspace near Cuba for two years, but he declined to comment. Felipe said the idea would include direct internet connection to mobile phones on the island without the involvement of any ground supplier. In a statement to the Associated Press, Felipe did not cite any company evidence, but said that the Cuban government “could not block the use of balloons in any significant way.”

None of the supporters estimated cost. According to Salazar, she believes that if the federal government supports the plan, it can be fully supported by donations from members of the Cuban diaspora.

What does internet service look like in Cuba?

Until recently, Internet access in Cuba was expensive and relatively uncommon. Beginning in December 2018, Cubans will be able to access the Internet on their phones through the government’s telecom monopoly. Today, more than half of all Cubans have access to the Internet.

The Cuban government is restricting free media and censoring online censorship, according to Human Rights Watch. Disrupts Internet service to stop protests.

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