Jack Clark, The Register, Zuck: Web drones, not balloons (cough, cough Google) are way forward, here. Check out Connecting the World from the Sky, here. I suppose you can trade and serve up web pages. If the power is not an issue and the movement between drone can be carefully calibrated without much exogenous changes I’d imagine you have shot at keeping a line of sight microwave link connection going. Just keep a little robot arm on board to aim based on the predetermined deterministic flight pattern known to you and your neighbor drones.
One reason why Zuckerberg is so keen on drones is users can “precisely control the location of these aircraft, unlike balloons,” he wrote [PDF].
Another is that: “With the efficiency and endurance of high altitude drones, it’s even possible that aircraft could remain aloft for months or years. This means drones have more endurance than balloons, while also being able to have their location precisely controlled.”
To Zuckerberg’s mind this is one of a bevy of reasons of why he has settled on drones as a major technology to use to bring the next five billion or so people in the world online (and, eventually, into his ad-slinging social network).
These drones, he wrote, will be solar-powered, and fly at a height of about 65,000 feet to wirelessly relay network connections to hard-to-reach places.
Mahwah can be hard to reach sometimes, and Slough, forget about it.
Hugh Cumberland, Banking Technology, Aug 2013, Can balloons really enable HFT, or is it just hot air, here. The distance from Carteret to Slough is 80 balloons.
That said, the demand for such a service is real. As things stand, it’s not possible to use microwave directly across the Atlantic, and using balloons as a means of getting signals from A to B is not an entirely untested concept. The reality check is the scale of the technology required. Assuming 50 kilometre hops, you would need something like 80 balloons in place. That’s quite an estate to install, operate, manage and maintain.