Balloons and the Internet

I’m sitting on the 7th floor of the Marriott in Visalia, CA. struggling with a slow wireless system, that originates, not here in the Marriott, but from the Comfort Suites a few yards across the way. It’s interesting to me–and I may have mentioned this before–that often while modestly priced hotels, such as Comfort Suites, offer free wireless capabilities, many high-line hotels, such as the Marriott, charge for such services.

Prominently situated on the desk here in our beautiful room is a card stating that wireless internet service is available here…for a fee. Turns out to be $10.00 a day–for each computer, so that the daily charge for Jerry and me would be $20.00 while we’re here. A little hefty, and while I was prowling around for opportunity, up popped a message from Comfort Suites that asked me to sign an agreement with them, which I did, and so was born wireless internet service for the Buxtons while we’re here a couple of days. It’s a bit slow, but quite workable.

Check this out: Space Data Corporaation uses balloons to to service areas with telecom services, and now Google has an eye on this and may become involved. Good news for those who live in rural areas that have spotty or no internet service.

Jerry Knoblach wants to bring wireless service to millions of rural Americans. His plan: Beam it down from balloons hovering at the edge of space.

This isn’t just hot air. His company, Space Data Corp., already launches 10 balloons a day across the Southern U.S., providing specialized telecom services to truckers and oil companies. His balloons soar 20 miles into the stratosphere, each carrying a shoebox-size payload of electronics that acts like a mini cellphone “tower” covering thousands of square miles below.

The rest of the fascinating Wall Street Journal article is here.

I’ve written several times, including here about the challenges of internet service while I travel, and am leaning toward thinking that one day internet service will be free just as radio and television services are now. I reported here about a young man who was fined for using the internet signal as he sat outside a cafe. Free world-wide internet? That will be a happy day for me!

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My devotional blog is here.

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