Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:00 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:00 | SYDNEY

Floating communications


Sam Roggeveen


6 March 2008 09:55

This Wall Street Journal article describes an innovative effort to bring mobile phone access to rural America. Since it isn't profitable to install towers in such thinly populated areas, this company floats baloons with small electronic packages 20 miles into the stratosphere. Hey presto, instant mobile phone coverage.

I can see this idea having other applications. After a natural disaster like the Boxing Day Tsunami or in a poor country like Afghanistan, the balloons could bring quick and relatively cheap communications. And maybe the technology could be applied to North Korea if the West wanted to influence opinion there. Of course, North Koreans don't have phones, but how hard would it be to smuggle in or airdrop a few hundred thousand second-hand Nokias?