Google's balloon-powered internet service is 100x closer to becoming a reality

"Out timelines are starting to move up on how we can do more for the world sooner", said Astro Teller, who heads the team at the Alphabet unit X, in charge of "moonshot" projects of the technology giant.

The Loon balloon project is part of X, the experimental division of Alphabet, Google's parent company. As a result, those balloons don't need to be placed in a ring around the world, but rather can be clustered over a more concentrated area that may lack internet access.

Project Loon said it will be able to provide greater connectivity will less balloons, after advancing machine learning software, Recode reported.

With the improvement, a balloon network can get up and running in remote or rural places in weeks, not months, and the effort to oversee the network would be much less challenging.

"We've been working to make the balloons smarter; nearly like a game of chess with the winds", Teller said.

The team behind Project Loon says it's now figured out a way to send small clusters of balloons to areas where they're needed most and stay in place for months at a time.

"We are not going to all of a sudden be everywhere", Teller said.

Almost four years ago, Google embarked on a mission to bring internet coverage to remote areas with specially designed balloons. "We intend to be part of an ecosystem - in any country where we are doing testing we would work with a local telco".

Project Loon now connects Sri Lanka's 21 million people to the web, even those in remote connectivity black spots.

The balloons float in the stratosphere around 11 miles high.

Alphabet frames Project Loon as a noble endeavor striving to enable people now without reliable internet service to tap into the vast reservoir of knowledge, entertainment and conveniences available online.

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