February 1, 2016 1:14 pm

Google’s ‘SkyBender’ project aims to deliver 5G Internet from drones: report

Google is reportedly testing 5G technology.

(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
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Google may have its eyes set on a faster Internet. According to a report by The Guardian, the tech giant is working on a new project — code named Project SkyBender — that aims to deliver 5G Internet connections from solar-powered drones.

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The report said Google has built several prototype devices that use millimetre wave radio transmissions and is testing them at Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space terminal at Spaceport America in New Mexico, originally designed for Virgin Galactic’s spaceflights. Millimetre waves are believed to be capable of transmitting data up to 40 times faster than today’s 4G LTE connections.

However,  millimetre wave transmissions fade after a short distance, which is where Google’s solar-powered drones come in. According to The Guardian, beaming the 5G connection from the sky could solve the transmission issue.

In March, Google announced it was gearing up to test its solar-powered drones — also known as “Project Titan” — which are designed to hover over areas and act as hot spots to supply web connections to those below. Google also plans to use the drones in areas that have been knocked offline during natural disasters or weather incidents.

READ MORE: Google to start testing solar-powered Internet drones

Google has already invested a lot of time and money in beaming Internet connections from the sky.

Google’s two-year-old Project Loon program aims to change that by transmitting high-speed Internet signals from clusters of balloons floating about 60,000 feet above the Earth.

In October, the balloons began hovering in the stratosphere above Indonesia in an effort to bring more connectivity to the region. About 250 million people live in the country composed of about 17,000 islands in that part of Southeast Asia, although only 42 million have Internet access, according to the CIA’s estimates.

Although the project is still being funded primarily by money that Google makes from digital advertising, it recently became part of an independent lab called X that is run by Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

READ MORE: Google’s Internet-beaming balloons to deliver Internet to Indonesia

Project Loon aims to get about 100 million currently unconnected people tapped into the vast reservoir of knowledge, entertainment and conveniences available online. But it could also enrich Google by expanding the potential audience that can use its search engine, YouTube, Gmail and, of course, click on digital ads.

Facebook is also working to build drones, satellites and lasers that will help “to beam Internet to people from the sky.”

© 2016 Shaw Media

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