RF Zeppelin

They float, they're round, white, and wobbly, and soon they'll be bringing wireless data to rural areas across America if Space Data Corp. has its way.

What on Earth? you may ask. Well, we're talking balloons -- yes, balloons -- bringing wireless data to areas where it isn't practical or possible to put up towers. The concept is simple. Space Data wants to attach wireless communications repeaters to weather balloons that are sent up over areas that aren't covered by conventional towers. The firm says that each balloon -- or "SkySite" -- will float 20 miles above the Earth's surface, provide communications services for approximately 12 to 24 hours, and then be replenished with a new "constellation" of ballooncraft. Space Data plans to act as a carriers' carrier, selling transmission capacity to other operators.

The firm says it will demonstrate this technology on Capitol Hill in Washington this Wednesday. The Space Data demonstration will be part of the Congressional Wireless Caucus's technology day. Now, this all seems laudable. However, Unstrung always finds those big white weather balloons a bit creepy. Perhaps they're too reminiscent of the "Rover" balloons in The Prisoner.

Be seeing you!

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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