Wireless networks using balloons
| 01.31.2006 | 09:46:23 | Views: 2508 | ID:
January 31 '06: Providing a wireless network over a thinly populated area is tough for companies and local governments because of the costs involved with building the necessary infrastructure. Forbes ran a story by the Associated Press on Monday which found former Governor Ed. Schafer of North Dakota backing a plan that would create a wireless network in his state using balloons. The balloons would carry the network repeaters in a small, toaster-sized boxes, and would relay the network signals.
The balloons are inexpensive to use and a trial run is scheduled for later this summer, the AP reported. Schafer told the wire agency, "To cover every square mile of North Dakota, it would take 1,100 cell towers. ... We can do the whole state with three balloons."The network runs by having a series of balloons sent into the stratosphere, the AP reported. Each balloon travels about 30 miles at an altitude of about 20 miles above the earth. "The balloons swell from six feet in diameter to 30 feet after they gain altitude," the AP continued. "Once the balloon leaves the state, its toaster-size communications pod would jettison, deploy a parachute and fall the earth, where it would signal its position." Each one of the balloons costs around $55. Schafer told the AP each cell phone tower costs close to $250,000. Schafer said the balloons already have been found to be effective even in harsh weather. Balloons were sent up during Hurricane Katrina to help with communications systems after towers on the ground were damaged, Schafer said.
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