Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by Google with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas using High-Altitude Balloons (HAB) placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 20 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds.
The solar powered balloons are expected to stay aloft for over 100 days at a time and support not only air-to-ground Internet communications but also balloon-to-balloon communications enabling the signal to be relayed, if required, by several balloons to a ground-based station connected to an ISP, then onto the global Internet.
Google plans to sending up 300 balloons transmitting on 2400 MHz and 5800 MHz around the world at the southern fortieth parallel that would provide coverage to New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and Argentina. The company hopes to eventually have thousands of balloons flying in the stratosphere at an altitude of 20 km.
The first 30 balloons are being launched from New Zealand see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10890750
Among those involved in the project is Erin King AK4JG, a student at MIT. She was winner of the 2012 Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award. See a video of her earlier balloon project while still at high school and a video of her presentation ‘Launching Radios and Other Cool Stuff into the Stratosphere’ at https://amsat-uk.org/2012/07/03/arnewsline-ham-of-the-year-erin-king-ak4jg/
Google Project Loon http://www.google.com/loon/