Hey, Ma! My promotion to "Balloonist" Came Through!
FROM THE "IT LOOKS GOOD ON PAPER" department comes another brilliant idea from a government agency, this time the Federal Communications Commission. And you know all about "great ideas" that bubble up from government agencies. The problem they want to address is the failure of the wireless telephone and communications services after hurricanes breeze through and leave their cell towers non-functioning for whatever reasons. Somebody has sold them on the notion that a remedy would be to dangle wireless antennae from balloons or maybe trailing behind drones.
Gerry Smith, the Tech Column writer for Huffington Post penned:
The Federal Communications Commission is exploring the use of such airborne technology to restore communications after disasters. Beaming 3G or Wi-Fi signals from the sky may be especially useful to emergency responders in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, when repair crews are unable reach damaged equipment because roads and bridges are impassible, experts said.
"It sounds futuristic, but the technology is absolutely there," said Daniel M. Devasirvatham, a chief technology officer at Science Applications International Corp.
This spring, the Federal Communications Commission asked for public comments on the potential for deploying wireless networks via small drones or weather balloons, saying it could "further strengthen and enhance the security and reliability of the nation's communications infrastructure."
"We know this technology can work," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement in May. Genachowski added it "would have been remarkably useful" after Hurricane Katrina, when dozens of 911 call centers were inoperable and more than 3 million customers lost telephone service.
It goes without saying that a large percentage of those 3 million victims also lost their cell phones as well, so they were unable to call for pizza delivery anyway. Mr. Smith goes on to tell us that the military has used this technology to set up temporary networks in remote combat zones, and FEMA has supposedly used it to dangle broadband antennae for internet connections to be used by wildland firefighters and a few other temporary needs of emergency crews.
But when it comes to integrating the various radio signals of compteting cellphone providers, well, you have problems. But the ballooon makers and drone builders say they can do it, yeah!
Look at both sides of the controversy by reading the entire, well-written article in the HuffPost HERE.
This has been tried before, by the way.
Thanks to Mark D. for dangling this bit of science overhead for us.