Google announced a new project called »LOONS«. The project is a solution to connect more people to the internet. The reason for that is, that still two-thirds of the worlds population does not have a proper access to the internet. So there is a need for a easy and cheap solution!
»LOONS« is about floating balloons
The balloons will float 20kms high above the earth and they will steer with the wind. Which is necessary, because the balloons need to communicate with each other. The winds up in the stratosphere are very steady and not that fast. The layers of wind are different in magnitude and direction where they are blowing. Each balloon is a hub to another balloon and to route the signal from the senders antenna to an ISP-station, they just communicate with each other. One of these balloons can cover a 40 km area and will provide the bandwidth comparable to 3G.
How it works:
The balloons in the sky
The test for this project starts in June 2013 and will be in New Zealand. To participate you can register yourself as a tester here. Google already started with releasing some balloons into the stratosphere.
I think the idea to connect more people to the internet in this way is a good start.