Google begins launching Internet-beaming balloons

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Google is launching Internet-beaming antennas into the stratosphere aboard giant, jellyfish-shaped balloons with the lofty goal of getting the entire planet online.

The top-secret project was announced Saturday in New Zealand.

That’s where up to 50 volunteer households are already beginning to receive the Internet briefly on their home computers as the helium balloons sail past on the wind 12 miles above Earth.

While the project is still in the experimental stage, Google hopes eventually to launch thousands of the balloons and bring the Internet to some of the more remote parts of the globe.

If successful, the technology might allow countries to avoid the expense of installing fiber-optic cable.

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