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Google’s balloon-powered internet gets Australia carrier backing

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Project Loon

Google is bringing balloon-powered internet to the Aussies after a top Australian network carrier pledged support.

Telstra has agreed to partner with Google to test-fly 20 net-beaming balloons over Queensland as soon as next month.

It’s all part of Project Loon, a suitably wacky Google X brainchild that looks to connect remote parts of the world with a network of floating signal hubs.

Google X is the search engine giant’s secretive research and development division, and it’s been working on Loon since 2011.

The Loon balloons are filled with helium, launched up into the stratosphere, and then bounce internet between each other and, most importantly, 20km down to willing users below.

The scheme kicked off last year in New Zealand due to good air conditions, and will now undergo similar testing in neighbouring Australia.

Telstra says it’s going to supply base stations across the western Queensland area that will beam up internet to the balloon network above.

Eventually Google hopes it will have enough balloons in the stratosphere to push internet to the roughly 60 per cent of Earth’s population currently without access to the web.

It’s a great alternative to the far costlier method of laying underground cabling, making it an attractive option for developing countries who still lack solid internet infrastructure.

Facebook has its own plans to provide a similar service, albeit through the use of drones, not balloons.

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