Alphabet to shut down its balloon internet company, Loon

Alphabet first unveiled Loon back in 2013

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is shutting down Loon, a project that aimed to offer internet from floating balloons, according to a recent blog post from the company’s X moonshot division.

Alphabet unveiled Loon under X back in 2013, and it became its own independent company within Alphabet in 2018. Loon worked on balloons capable of creating a mesh internet network in the sky, developed balloons that could withstand the stratosphere’s harsh conditions for more than a year, and more.

However, the blog post says that “the road to commercial viability has proven longer and riskier than hoped,” as the key reason for shutting down the project.

That said, Loon did implement its innovative technology in a limited capacity in the real-world. For example, the company created a commercial internet service in Kenya in July that featured 35 balloons covering an area of 50,000 square kilometres.

The service saw an uplink speed of 4.74Mpbs and a download speed of 18.9Mbps, with a latency of 19ms. Additionally, Loon provided internet services in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and Peru following an earthquake in 2019.

X says it’s working to move most of the Loon team to different roles at Alphabet. A small team will ensure Loon’s operations in Kenya wind down smoothly. Additionally, the company is pledging $10 million USD (roughly 12.7 million CAD) to support nonprofits and businesses that focus on connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya.

Image credit: Alphabet

Source: Blog X