Balloon-platform rural Internet provider

UMSI professor Yan Chen joins Mary-Ann Ray from U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Aaron Ridley from the College of Engineering on a project to develop a rural wireless Internet provider system.

Start date: 11/28/2012
End date: 11/28/2014

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CLOUD is a project for a balloon-platform rural wireless Internet provider system that consists of a series of low altitude balloons over rural villages that connect to a centrally located higher altitude township balloon. Currently, potential entrepreneurial rural villagers in China and other parts of the developing world often have no access to the Internet, which is critical for developing and realizing new rural based business models and generating alternatives to urban migration as a means for providing for their families. 

The project has a real test site located in the Zhenzhu Rural Township, several hours north of Beijing. CLOUD is a translucent floating object that is lit at night with solar power and provides shade during the day. It is able to be moved and re-tethered to different locations in the village.


MCubed seed grant: CLOUD: Balloon Platform Rural Internet Provider, University of Michigan: $60,000


MCubed is a two-year seed-funding program designed to empower interdisciplinary teams of University of Michigan faculty to pursue new initiatives with major societal impact.