[SEMINAR] March 18, 2022 – Pablo Serrano – The balloon goes up: characteristics and trade-offs of the Google Loon service

We are happy to invite you to the next talk of Moscow Telecommunication Seminar which will be held at 17.00 (MSK, UTC+03:00), on Friday, March 18, 2022, in Zoom. Click here to show the seminar start time in your timezone.

Title: The balloon goes up: characteristics and trade-offs of the Google Loon service

Speaker: Pablo Serrano, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)

Abstract: The Google’s Loon initiative aimed at covering rural or underdeveloped areas via fleets of high-altitude balloons supporting LTE connectivity. But how effective and stable can be the coverage provided by a network deployed via propulsion-free balloons, floating in the sky, and only loosely controllable through altitude variations? To provide some insights on the relevant performance and trade-offs, we gather real-world data from publicly available flight tracking services, and we analyze coverage and service stability in three past deployment scenarios. Besides employing a variety of metrics related to spatial and temporal coverage, we also assess service continuity, by also leveraging recently proposed “meaningful availability” metrics. While our analyses show that balloons might certainly be a way to provide a better-than-nothing and delay-tolerant service, there is yet no empirical evidence that an increase in the number of overlapping balloons may be rewarded with a substantial performance increase –in other words, we suspect that guaranteeing coverage and service stability levels comparable to that of a terrestrial cellular network is a challenging goal. The recent shut down of the Loon service, apparently caused by the inability to reduce the costs to build a sustainable business, seems to confirm our results.

Bio: Pablo Serrano is an Associate Professor at the Department of Telematic Engineering of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. He has over 100 peer-reviewed papers in international journal and conferences and has served on the TPC of many of them. He currently serves as Associate Editor of the IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society. He has held visiting positions at Univ. Massachusetts Amherst, Univ. of Edinburgh, Trinity College Dublin, Univ. of Rome Tor Vergata, and Telefónica R+D Barcelona. He has participated in many research projects (national and European), acting as Principal Investigator of the flagship Hexa-X project, the H2020 Flex5Gware project and the regional Tigre5-CM project. His research interests lie in the analysis of wireless networks and the design of network protocols and systems. He is currently Deputy Director of Teaching Affairs at the Department of Telematic Engineering and Director of the Master in Connected Industry 4.0.

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