Google is testing a project that would bring the internet to people in rural areas and developing nations via high-altitude balloons. The program, called Project Loon, comes out of Google's experimental lab, known as Google X. The idea is to send big remote-controlled balloons up into the atmosphere, about twice as high as commercial jets fly. Radios mounted on the balloons would send internet back to the ground.
That would be useful in places too remote for cables, explained Google aerospace engineer Sameera Ponda.
"By virtue of our technology, which is essentially a network that flies above everything, we're not limited by the same limitations that cell towers, for instance, would have," she said.
Google engineers have tested the project in various stages in California and in New Zealand, where Ponda said, it was well-received.
"We had a few farmers in New Zealand who were able to connect from their houses. Normally they didn't have reliable internet, and they were really excited to see this," she said. "It was just really nice to see that this could really improve their lives a lot. They could get weather reports for their farms and things like that that could really benefit their businesses."