Google has launched a new plan to bring internet services to areas not previously accessible, through the innovative use of hot air balloons.

Called Project Loon, the new initiative uses wifi-broadcasting balloons drifting 19km above the Earth to connect people in remote, poor or disaster-affected areas.  

Australia lost out to the Kiwis in the bid for the first trial site, with 30 test balloons going up over New Zealand on the weekend. As the high-tech hot air balloons ascend into the stratosphere, more people should be in range to access the internet.

Google has several trials planned, including a likely test in Australia some time next year. With an NBN plan that includes the possibility of satellite services covering rural areas, there’s been some speculation the technology of Project Loon could assist broadband rollout in Australia.