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Google launches superballoon Project Loon in effort to provide floating internet access

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

June 15, 2013 | 2 min read

Google is set to launch around 20 giant superpressure balloons in New Zealand to provide floating internet access which could, if successful, enable to tech giant to divert resources to disaster-hit areas in times of emergency.

Ambitious: Project Loon is launching with 20 balloons

The test flights will offer 3G-like speeds to 50 testers in the country and the firm hopes to strengthen its fleet of balloons to increase internet provision. Google said the balloons would drift on a controlled path and could assist in rescue operation where ground communications were damaged or at risk.

Google has ambitious plans for the idea – which it has named Project Loon – and says success of the balloons could provide a way to connect the two-thirds of the world’s population which does not have affordable internet access.

The balloons are 15m in diameter and filled with lifting gases. Google is aiming to fly them at a height of around 12 miles above the ground, which is higher than the altitude of commercial aircraft and sits above controlled airspace.

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