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Care to Click: The rainforest blog

Balloons Carrying WiFi: Bringing internet access to the Amazon rainforest

amazon rainforestA new program in Brazil is hoping to use large balloons hovering over the rainforest canopy to bring the internet to the Amazon.
 
The project is called Conectar, which is Portuguese for “connect,” and is part of Brazil's National Institute of Space Research. The goal is to place internet transmitters in the basket of balloons and let them ascend to an altitude of nearly 1,000 feet. The balloons would be tethered to the ground and provide a wireless internet signal far stronger than previous wireless efforts.
 
The balloons would be effective in helping places that don't have access to fiber optic networks.
 
Early trials have been positive. A test conducted late last year in Sao Paulo found that a similar set-up provided internet access to people within a 185 mile radius. The first test in a remote area of the Amazon rainforest should come this summer.
 
Bringing internet access to the small villages that dot the Amazon rainforest is an ambitious project. Of course, it is only a starting point. Many of those villages lack electricity, let alone the computers needed to connect to the internet.
 
Still, there is no question that many of the poorest people in the world live in these regions, and one of the quickest ways to reverse poverty is by providing an educational system. There is no doubt the internet can aid such an effort.
 
Internet integration can also provide early warning when dangerous storms are approaching (providing the storms don't deflate the balloons), or allow villages to contact people for help following natural disasters.
 
Worldwide internet access will eventually happen, and while bringing the web to remote parts of the Amazon rainforest may not be the most pressing need, it is still worth pursuing.
 
Care To Click will keep our community updated on the progress of the Conectar project. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit the Care To Click Rainforest page and donate a free click or print useful coupons. At CareToClick.com, your small actions prompt our donations that benefit organizations trying to save the rainforest.
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