Project SkyBender to provide Internet access over a 5G wireless network through drones was suppsed to be a secret but various information on the tests conducted by Google – but perhaps it would be more correct to call it Alphabet – leaked. According to the news now become public knowledge, the Google team is working in New Mexico to a technology that uses millimeter wavelengths to deliver speeds up to 40 times faster than 4G/LTE mobile networks.
In April 2014 Google acquired the drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace. Immediately, speculation started about a possible use of these drones in the Loon project, which aims to bring wireless Internet connections in areas where this isn’t available, but using balloons sent into the stratosphere. Apparently, the company’s plans are more complex and now plans for this other project called SkyBender have been revealed.
From the leaked information it turns out that the Google team has been working for months at Spaceport America, opened to support in particular the activities of Virgin Galactic, which however at the moment are halted. While waiting for Richard Branson’s company to succeed in flying its spaceplane, Titan/Google drones are used for Project SkyBender tests together with an airplane called Centaur, which can be remote-controlled like a drone or normally piloted by a human being on board.
The tests concern wireless connections at 28 GHz, a frequency different from the ones used for cellular networks, where now the traffic is huge. The problem is that the broadcasts at those frequencies have a much lower range than those of mobile phones signals, a tenth compared to the frequencies of 4G networks. To solve the problem, the Google team is experimenting greatly focused broadcasts, a very complex task.
So far Google hasn’t commented on this information so we don’t know who accurate they are. Assuming that what leaked is correct, it’s impossible to say how far the tests have gone and as a result when the company could begin to offer this type of services. Other companies are developing new solutions for broadband wireless connections so in the coming years we will certainly have some very interesting news.