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A new project that uses weather balloons to provide wireless internet could help bridge Britain's digital divide, it has been claimed.

US-based company Space Data has announced its intention to develop its revolutionary technology within the UK after successful domestic trials.

The service works by attaching small wireless transceivers to weather balloons that float in the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere.

Residents living in remote areas are paid to launch the balloons, which can then cover an area equivalent to the operating coverage of 80 telephone masts.

Internet services giant Google has been linked to the project by sources connected with the firm, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Space Data's technology has proved very effective in the US says Jerry Knoblach, the co-founder of the group, who adds that he expects the service to capitalise on the very profitable broadband market.

It is the latest of a number of recent projects that aim to provide reliable high-speed broadband services throughout the UK.

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