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gift to rural
What Google proposes doing
is to use balloons high in the
stratosphere to offer wide-area
coverage of broadband. It is,
quite literally, the material of
GOOGLE S GLOBAL trial for its
revolutionary Project Loon inter-
net initiative is being welcomed by
If successful, Project Loon could
ensure near-total broadband
coverage for rural New Zealand at
speeds currently associated with
Google s Project Loon is the
epitome of innovation. It takes
cool science and puts it together in
a completely new way, Federated
Farmers vice-president, Dr
William Rolleston said, speaking
immediately after the recent
global launch of Google Loon
What Google proposes doing is
to use balloons high in the strato-
sphere to offer wide-area coverage
It is, quite literally, the
material of Star Trek.
Dr Rolleston said Google Loon
was a radical, but inspiring sol-
ution, which could eliminate
the downside of satellite and
weak or non-existent wireless for
those areas where fibre-based
broadband cannot reach.
With rings of Loon balloons ,
it is a brave new step towards pro-
viding coverage to rural and
remote areas, he said.
Potentially, this is huge, given
New Zealand s Rural Broadband
Initiative still leaves around a
quarter of rural New Zealand
without reliable or rapid access to
Given the genesis of the New
Zealand economy starts in the
rural hinterland, Project Loon
could well be a step-change to
supercharge New Zealand s pri-
Dr Rolleston said Project Loon
potentially eliminated the techno-
logical tyranny of being rural .
It means businesses, services
and communities can be put on an
even footing with the cities.
That could reinvigorate rural
communities the world over, but
especially right here in New
Zealand, Dr Rolleston said.
Federated Farmers Meat &
Fibre chairwoman Jeanette
Maxwell s property is a perfect
example of how Project Loon could
bring reliable and fast internet to
rural New Zealand.
Farming at iconic Mt Hutt, we
are at the absolute edge of
broadband, as it currently exists,
Ms Maxwell said.
We have broadband -- sort of.
Our wired ADSL really struggles,
being on old copper, and I often
have to call people when I send an
email to ensure it gets through.
We are at the edge of Telecom s
3G coverage and the signal to our
place is weak.
Our farm also happens to be in
the satellite shadow thrown by Mt
Hutt, so direct satellite broadband
is not an option for us.
Google s Project Loon could
change all of that, she said.
Federated Farmers is excited by
the prospect of Google s Project
Loon, Dr Rolleston said.
It is inspiring innovation,
with huge application for New
Zealand s primary industries.
We genuinely thank Google for
what is a moon shot for
connectedness, he said.
FUN CHALLENGE: Darfield High School is running an equestrian rogaine as
DARFIELD HIGH School takes
its annual rural fundraiser to
the city this year.
On Sunday, August 4, com-
petitors will ride the trails and
roads at Bottle Lake forest,
Burwood, in an equestrian
rogaine. This will be the second
such rogaine on horseback. The
inaugural event, held in April
2012, is believed to be an
That event, at Springfield,
attracted almost 100 entries and
was won by the Zydenbos family
foursome of Rick, Sue, Luke
(then 13) and Leah (then 11),
For this year s event, mounted
teams of two to four will follow a
map with checkpoints marked
on it. The checkpoints have dif-
fering points values. Teams will
collect points by visiting as
many checkpoints as possible in
the time available. The team
with most points wins.
Organiser Carol Fowler, of
West Melton, who rides herself
and has competed in many foot
rogaines, says the flat terrain at
Bottle Lake will be suitable for
both hacks and ponies. This
should ensure that the event is
The event requires pre-entry,
with entries closing on July 31.
Full details and entry form
are on the Darfield High School
website at: http://www.darfield-
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