Google launches Internet balloons in New Zealand

June 15, 2013 at 2:57 PM
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 15 (UPI) -- Google says its working on a project to being a fast, affordable Internet connection to those without by using balloons.

Project Loon -- a ring of balloons that would fly around the globe in the stratosphere, providing those below it with Internet access -- was announced by Mike Cassidy, the head of Project Loon, posted on Google's blog Friday.

"It's very early days, but we've built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today's 3G networks or faster," Cassidy wrote. "As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters."

This week, Google said it launched 30 of such Internet balloons over the Canterbury area of New Zealand and had 50 people connect to them.

"This is the first time we've launched this many balloons (30 this week, in fact) and tried to connect to this many receivers on the ground, and we're going to learn a lot that will help us improve our technology and balloon design," Cassidy said.

"This is still highly experimental technology and we have a long way to go -- we'd love your support as we keep trying and keep flying! Follow our Google+ page to keep up with Project Loon's progress," Cassidy said.

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