Project LUFT:
A Proposal to Connect Rural America to Wireless Internet 

Client: Savannah College of Art and Design, Service Design Studio : Emerging Technologies and Business


The challenge of this studio class was to explore how a disruptive technology can transform an existing service offering. Our team was tasked with integrating Google X 4G Providing Solar Balloons into a business model of our choosing, (in our case, T-Mobile for it's infrastrucutre). Our project became the experience design of optimized offering for our users, both the end customers and enterprise employees that would help drivee the change.

Research and service design artifacts, business model canvas, management dashboard key performance indicators and UI.

My Role: 
Service design, business design, writing / editing, UI / UX

Polly Adams
Christian Edwards
Breana Russell

Lessons Learned:
When in strategic doubt, use the business model canvas. When conveying new ideas, explore new frameworks that support your hard work.

luft opp

Google Loon was developed by Google [X] to provide high speed internet connection to areas with low accessibility. Using balloons as a new system of providing 4G LTE data and internet connection was created with the intent to reach areas that could not previously be reached before.Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 80 km in diameter. In order to effectively provide connection Google would need to partner with telecommunications companies in order to connect existing customers with a better coverage using existing towers. This coverage allows people to access the Internet everywhere directly from their phones, and other LTE-enabled devices. They travel to their needed location and send signals using high-speed links. 


The Proposal: Use T-Mobile's existing infrastructure to implement Google Loon Technology across rural America, and track success through a management dashboard that enables employees and ensures quality for customers.


Process + Research

Using statistics from the National Broadband Plan already planning to solve the connection, and identifying Google Loon as an emerging technology in the field of internet connection, we analyzed the opportunity for an existing telecom company (T-Mobile) to absorb Loon's technology to better connect people to 4G LTE services in Rural America, where connection is needed the most.

In the rural West, where 2 million people lack broadband access, topography is also a barrier. Mountains and narrow valleys can block signals from wireless towers and satellites and make it difficult to install fiber-optic cables. Google Loon Technology is a non-invasive solution that provides 4G LTE connection from the stratosphere to inaccessible geographical locations across the United States. The advantage of a balloon-based system over physical satellites and towers is that it should ultimately be cheaper and easier to maintain in the long run - at least, if all the technological challenges continue to be improved upon at the current rate over time. 

luft story

Implementation Plan



Project LUFT is the proposed result of T-Mobile and Google LOON partnering to bring affordable 4G LTE connection to rural Americans. The target markets in these areas primarily include healthcare and education facilities, with the goal in mind to extend to small business owners, and general citizens connected to slow and expensive broadband. 

This service offering map (left) demonstrates the changes that occur when Loon technology is adapted into T-Mobile's Infrastructure with existing towers-- the addition of the balloons and staff increases coverage and interaction, and increases the value and quality for rural users in the United States. T-Mobile’s proposed service offering aims to connect people in the modern world, and aligns perfectly with Google Loon’s aim to 4G LTE connection to those without access. Together, T-Mobile and Loon could bring 4G LTE services to rural America, where users are currently dissatisfied with the high cost of slow broadband, or not connected at all. T-Mobile would benefit as an entity in strengthening their connection, and gaining back customer confidence in providing the service that they offer but do not always meet with packet switching technology and cell towers (see coverage map to the right). 


In determining our target segment of users, we moved forward by developing a business model canvas and a 90-day plan to implement Project LUFT connect rural areas of America (both seen below). The business model canvas helped us propose the value of our concept and fine tune some logistics in our thinking. Breaking down the process of connection to 3, 30-day phases allowed us to view the process from a holistic standpoint and realistically cap the initiative to 90 days. The three phases consist of attracting new users, converting them to T-Mobile service and connecting them to Google Loons 4GLTE technology. 


Management Dashboard + Sample Use Case

For this project we determined Silver Bow County, Montana as prime candidate for Project LUFT to launch the 90-day plan. The community is in an isolated rural area within the US, and experiencing low income and opportunity as a symptom of being poorly connected.

To ensure the success of the project, we started the process of developing a Management Dashboard that a Project Lead could use to manage, oversee, and better understand relevant factors in providing quality service to new users.  After determining Key Activities within each phase, we then established Strategic Goals, the Success Factors of meeting them, as well as the Key Performance and Result Indicators to measure the ongoing success or effectiveness of the initiative as it passes through each phase, and lead to the naming of three final tabs for our final product.

luft extra

Next, we dove into understanding who would take on the role of using and interacting with these measurements to smoothly manage the project. In determining the business background a manager might have, we were able to dive into the process of coming up with ways to visualize important information they would need to keep track of, to ensure the success of the business partnership through quality control. 


The final deliverable that came out of this project was a UI design for a management dashboard to track implementation and success in rural communities. Our team built an interface for project managers to keep track of success for any given project that may be on-going in their region based on the Key Performance Indicators (seen above) we determineed.

The final dashboard consisted of an overview and 3 main tabs:
1 - Market Analysis
2 - System Maintenance
3 - Development

Each exists to track important factors of Project LUFT as it launches in a given rural location (ie. Silver Bow County, MT)


See our final dashboard designs below:

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