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Project Loon hopes eventually to launch thousands of balloons to provide Internet to remote parts of the world/FILE

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Google to beam Internet from balloons

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Some 50 people were chosen to take part in the trial and were able to link to the Internet.

The first person to get Google Balloon Internet access was Charles Nimmo, a farmer and entrepreneur in the small town of Leeston who signed up for the experiment.

He told the New Zealand Herald he received Internet access for about 15 minutes before the transmitting balloon he was relying on floated out of range.

“It’s been weird,” he told the newspaper. “But it’s been exciting to be part of something new.”

Google’s ultimate goal is to have a ring of balloons — each the length of a small light aircraft when fully inflated — circling the Earth, ensuring there is no part of the globe that cannot access the web.

It did not say how much it was investing in the project.

“The idea may sound a bit crazy – and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon – but there’s solid science behind it,” Google said, but added: “This is still highly experimental technology and we have a long way to go.”

Project leader Mike Cassidy told reporters that if successful, the technology might allow countries to leapfrog the expense of installing fibre-optic cable.

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“It’s a huge moonshot, a really big goal to go after,” he said.

“The power of the Internet is probably one of the most transformative technologies of our time.”

Google said that over time it wanted to set up other pilot projects in countries at the same latitude as New Zealand, including Australia and Argentina, due to the stratospheric conditions.

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