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Current Affairs

Balloon powered uncensored internet in Cuba

Date: 20 July 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Governor of Florida has requested US President Biden to provide uncensored internet access to Cuban citizens via high altitude balloons.

 

Background

Internet and free speech is highly restricted in Cuba. The regime has been functioning through authoritarian way to prevent dissipation of information.

 

Details

  • The concept of internet through balloons is not new. Alphabet (parent company of Google) has tried this feature in Kenya.

  • The Internet-balloon project was called Project Loon. It was shut down in January after it failed to become commercially viable.

  • Project Loon had worked to provide internet to interior and mountain regions of Kenya along with a local telecom company. It had also worked in Puerto Rico along with AT&T.

 

Working

  • The project involved a balloon the size of tennis court. They floated high above the route of air traffic and worked with the help of solar batteries.

  • They were made up of common plastic polyethylene and could provide internet to cell phones with the help of telecom operators.

  • Thousands could be served by each balloon. They had to be replaced after 4-5 months. The wind conditions made it difficult for them to be controlled.

  • They need network integration and some ground equipments to work efficiently. Local permission for flight is also needed.

 

Challenges

  • For transmitting internet to Cuba, a free spectrum has to be available. These will help in seamless transmission.

  • Spectrums in a country are controlled by the government. There are concerns that the government can disrupt the signals.

  • The initial costs and annual maintenance is expected to be costly. Their working during storms and adverse conditions is not known.