Google has hired a former Viasat executive to act as general manager of the commercial service, which might not only serve people across the Southern Hemisphere, but also across the United States.

Google already has sought experimental authorization from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to conduct nationwide testing of airborne and terrestrial transmitters in the 71 GHz to 76 GHz and 81 GHz to 86 GHz bands (collectively, the E-band), to support Project Loon fleets of balloons providing Internet access.

Some might agree that Project Loon is an interesting way to provide Internet access across wide areas of the Southern hemisphere where it is difficult to install fixed networks or mobile cell towers.

But Google apparently also wants to provide service across North America.

As always, the issue is the business model. Originally, Project Loon considered acquiring its own spectrum.

Now it seems to have settled on a wholesale or backhaul model where Project Loon would partner with mobile operators using Long Term Evolution 4G networks. Project Loon then would serve as the backhaul mechanism, not the retail delivery service. 

Beyond that, there are obvious questions about the potential impact on other existing providers of Internet access in rural areas. Project Loon could compete with satellite Internet access services, rural fixed wireless or some mobile services (even if Project Loon partners with some mobile operator, it might not partner with all mobile operators).