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Google in talks to bring Loon to Sri Lanka, but it's not a done deal

The search giant is looking to bring its Wi-Fi-beaming balloons to the South Asian country, but discussions are still in early stages.

Google's Project Loon aims to bring Internet connectivity to rural populations. Google

Google is taking steps to bring its Wi-Fi-beaming balloons to Sri Lanka.

The search giant has signed a preliminary agreement, known as a memorandum of understanding, with the government of Sri Lanka, Google has confirmed. That means both sides will explore the possibility of testing Google's high-flying balloons in the country, but nothing has been finalized. The Agence France-Presse news agency was the first to report ties between Google and Sri Lanka.

The balloons were developed for Google's Project Loon, unveiled in 2013 under the auspices of the company's secretive Google X division. The lab is responsible for Google's most ambitious projects, including driverless cars and smart contact lenses.

For Google, getting remote populations online is good for business. The more people connected to the Internet, the more people are likely to use the company's services, including Gmail, search and its YouTube video site. The race to bring rural regions online has captivated Silicon Valley, with other high-profile companies -- from Facebook to SpaceX -- gunning to spread connectivity using everything from satellites to drones.