Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Up, up and away!

Floating a New Idea For Going Wireless, Parachute Included - WSJ.com

Maybe there is hope for me yet! A company called Space Data Corp. is sending balloons into the air to provide internet service to truckers and oil companies in the south.

The balloons are filled with hydrogen instead of helium because it is cheaper. They carry an electronic device that is the equivalent of a mini cell tower that is encased in styrofoam. The lifespan of the balloons is 24 hours before they burst and the mini cell tower drifts back to earth via a tiny parachute.

Space Data says a single balloon can do the work of 40 cell towers, by covering thousands of square miles below. With about 36% of rural Americans without high speed Internet connections (that would be me), this might be a cheaper alternative to satellite dishes, which can be unreliable and very expensive.

Space Data hires rural farmers, usually dairy farmers because of their strict milking schedules to launch their balloons daily, paying them $50 per launch. They also pay 20 people with GPS to retrieve the electronic devices after they fall back to Earth, they are paid $100 per device.

I would gladly launch a balloon everyday for a high speed internet connection.
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