Do you remember life before the Internet? Younger generations in developed countries will likely find it hard to imagine, but there was once a time when information wasn’t always a few taps or clicks away. Now, whether you’re in your home or on the go, the world’s information is always at your fingertips. Of course, there are still billions of people who do not have the same easy access to the web that many of us take for granted. In fact, more people than you might imagine have never accessed the Internet at all in their lifetimes.
But Google is trying to change that.
Project Loon is one of Google’s most important and ambitious projects to date — at least, among the projects we know about. The goal of Loon is to bring Internet access to the entire world.
The company’s strategy involves a far-reaching network of high altitude balloons that beam wireless web access to people on the ground below. Google has tested Loon in the U.S. and in New Zealand before — though not without incident — but now a major new milestone has been reached: For the first time, Google will soon begin testing its Project Loon balloons with a carrier partner.
According to the Australian Associated Press, Google and wireless carrier Telstra will begin testing Project Loon in Australia next month. In the test, 20 balloons will float about 12.5 miles above Queensland, Australia and beam down Telstra signal to the people below.
Project Loon has been in development since 2011, and Google’s hope is that its Loon balloons will bring Internet access (and Google’s services and ads) to every corner of the populated Earth. The balloons will also hopefully keep wireless service alive in areas impacted by disasters that would have otherwise taken down networks.