Ericsson boss sticks a pin in Google’s loony Loon bubble

Buy Earth-based radio gear instead, says maker of Earth-based radio gear


Google is wasting its time with its aptly named Project Loon and drones. So says Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s CEO.

Loon is a Google project to provide wireless internet coverage to remote areas of the world without web access – putting the cloud into clouds. It will fly helium balloons, with radio-linked base stations attached, over sparsely populated parts of the planet so people below can watch cats fighting printers.

Ericsson’s CEO says it’s a fruitless venture, and terrestrial mobile networks will negate the need.

Vestberg claims that mobile coverage will eventually provide internet access to 92 per cent of the world’s population with 90 per cent covered by 2019. Hence, there's no need for esoteric solutions as the networks, Ericsson’s customers, are building coverage and capacity: “There is a reason for that: because the cost is going down.”

Reaching the remaining eight per cent is the challenge and Vestberg again sees traditional technologies as the way to do this. “Don’t think that we will gain those people by using other technologies, we need to use the standard technologies, because the costs [of handsets] is falling."

Vestberg doesn’t think it will be easy to provide universal coverage — in particular he cites the lack of power as an issue — but claims developing the systems that Ericsson sells today, and bringing down the cost, is the solution to making something the disconnected can afford.

“It would be a disaster if you asked the eight per cent to use a new technology — that would be $500 per device again and that will never happen," he said.

Google has struggled to find places where it can fly the Loons, and has particularly found it hard to acquire access to suitable radio spectrum. Only New Zealand has given permission for trials.

Vestberg’s comments are another reason why it looks like it won’t fly. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022