Loon: Alphabet's balloon-powered internet access project is winding down

The Loon project was announced in 2013 with a mission of connecting people everywhere. At launch, it was a part of X, however, in 2018, Loon along with Wing, an autonomous delivery drone service and an Alphabet subsidiary, graduated from X to become two new independent businesses within Alphabet.

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 22-01-2021 12:21 IST | Created: 22-01-2021 12:13 IST
Loon: Alphabet's balloon-powered internet access project is winding down
Image Credit: Loon

Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. that aimed to bring internet access to unconnected and under-connected people around the world using high-altitude balloons in the stratosphere, is winding down its operations, the company confirmed on Friday.

In a blog post, Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon, said while they have found a number of willing partners along the way, they haven't found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term and sustainable business.

"We talk a lot about connecting the next billion users, but the reality is Loon has been chasing the hardest problem of all in connectivity: the last billion users: The communities in areas too difficult or remote to reach, or the areas where delivering service with existing technologies is just too expensive for everyday people. Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn't make breaking this news any easier. Today, I'm sad to share that Loon will be winding down," said Westgarth.

"Just as Loon's technology is built on pioneering work done by others in fields from aviation to meteorology to artificial intelligence, we hope that some of Loon's technology will live on to support the next generation of innovators," he further added.

The Loon project was announced in June 2013 with a mission of connecting people everywhere. At launch, it was a part of X, however, in 2018, Loon along with Wing, an autonomous delivery drone service and an Alphabet subsidiary, graduated from X to become two new independent businesses within Alphabet.

In a separate post, Astro Teller, the CEO of X, said, "Sadly, despite the team's groundbreaking technical achievements over the last 9 years - doing many things previously thought impossible, like precisely navigating balloons in the stratosphere, creating a mesh network in the sky, or developing balloons that can withstand the harsh conditions of the stratosphere for more than a year the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped. So we've made the difficult decision to close down Loon. In the coming months, we'll begin winding down operations and it will no longer be an Other Bet within Alphabet."


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