Google's Moonshot Chief Claims Progress on Project Loon Balloons

Baku, September 26 (AZERTAC). Google says it’s making progress on one of the Internet company’s more ambitious projects: An effort to beam Internet access to billions of unconnected people from high-altitude, wind-borne balloons circling the earth.

Astro Teller, who as “chief of moonshots” runs the company’s Google X research lab, said at the MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference that Project Loon should have a “semi-permanent” ring of balloons floating across the southern hemisphere in the next year or so. The balloons have logged more than two million kilometers in testing, he added.

Loon started in June 2013 and is part of a broad effort by Google to get more people connected to the Internet. Some Google X projects, such as the self-driving car, the smart contact lens and an effort called Baseline to map a human health at the molecular level, are loosely connected to the company’s main online advertising business. But if Loon gets a lot more of the earth’s inhabitants online that could increase Web searches and boost Google’s growth.

By the end of this year, about 60% of the world’s population, or roughly 4 billion people, still won’t be connected to the Internet and 90% of those people are in the developing world, according to the International Telecommunications Union, part of the United Nations.

“Project Loon is very important to their main business,” said Scott Strawn of research firm IDC.

Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, about twice as high as airplanes and weather systems. They circle the earth by rising or descending into layers of wind blowing in the right direction. Antennas attached to homes on the ground connect wirelessly to the balloons as they pass overhead. Google hasn’t disclosed who makes or supplies the antennas, and a company spokeswoman declined to comment.

Google started testing in New Zealand and has expanded tests to Northeast Brazil, California’s Central Valley and Nevada. In Brazil

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