Google plans to bring high speed WiFi access to over a billion people living in remote areas in Africa, using high altitude balloons which transmit signals across hundreds of miles.

Google is currently running a high speed fibre network in remote areas of the US, including Utah, Missouri and Texas. It’s now working with telecoms and equipment providers to enter emerging markets in Africa and south east Asia, with a view to bringing internet access to these rural areas.

A mix of technologies is being tested, including broadcasts from masts, satellites and ‘Blimps’ – remote control balloons. A google spokesman told the Wall Street Journal “There’s not going to be one technology that will be the silver bullet,”

Chief Executive Larry Page has often mentioned his aim to use his company to work towards broader, non-profit goals. But Google has refused to comment further on the experiments with a number of technologies within remote areas.

Google is also working to provide low-cost mobile phones and using Blimps to transmit signals over hundreds of square miles from high, near space, altitudes. The balloons are also equipped with cameras, and the images are retrieved when the balloons eventually fall back to earth.