Google’s plan for “balloon-powered Internet for everyone” will expand its pilot test to Australia next month, The Guardian reported Monday.
During the trial, the company will fly 20 test balloons over Western Queensland in partnership with Australia’s largest telecom company, Telstra. Telstra will supply base stations to communicate with the balloons, and the test balloons will beam down 4G-style Internet from over 60,000 ft. in the air.
The ultimate goal for Google’s balloon-based Internet initiative, known as Project Loon, is to use high-altitude balloons to provide Internet access in rural or remote areas or during times of disaster, according to Google.
The Australia test flights are the latest step forward for Project Loon, which began in June 2013 with a test flight of 30 balloons over New Zealand. Other trials have since taken place over California’s Central Valley and Northeast Brazil.
Google said it aims to expand the pilot through 2014 with the goal of establishing a ring of uninterrupted connectivity around the 40th southern parallel, a circle of latitude that includes parts of Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.