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Google’s Project Loon Close to Launching Thousands of Internet Balloons

Whether you think Google's plan to provide Internet to far-flung regions via thousands of weather balloons is audacious genius or misguided boondoggle, there's no denying it's a fascinating engineering project. Project Loon doesn't just fill wireless-equipped balloons with helium and send them on their way. There's a massive global infrastructure that must be built to track, redirect and eventually retrieve the floating hotspots. A new video from Google shows how far things have come from the early days of hand-assembled, off-the-shelf balloons and prototype hardware.

"If you look at the system today it's amazing how much more advanced it is," says project lead Mike Cassidy in the video. "The technology is working. We're getting close to the point where we can bring the Internet to people around the world."

Test runs over New Zealand have been promising, but that's just the beginning. Serving entire countries will take thousands more balloons, not to mention the people and equipment to launch and maintain them. Expect Google to share more news on that front as it happens.

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—Devin Coldewey