Google’s parent company Alphabet is about to close its Internet balloon business, Loon, which aims to provide a cheaper alternative to cellular towers. He said on Thursday that “it turns out that the road to business survival is longer than expected. The risk is greater.”

Founded in 2011, Loon aims to use a balloon as long as a tennis court to float solar network equipment at a height above the earth, thereby building the communication tower of the building into an overly expensive or dangerous world. However, the wireless operators that Loon considers its technology buyers questioned its technical and political feasibility.

Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon, said in a blog: “Although we have found many willing partners in the process, we have not yet found a way to reduce costs to build a long-term, sustainable business.”

Alphabet executive Astro Teller stated in another blog post that although Loon has made “groundbreaking technological achievements” in the past nine years, “the road to commercial viability” It proved to be longer than expected and riskier.”

Westgarth said that Loon’s legacy includes propelling helium balloons into the air for hundreds of days and developing communication equipment that can provide cell coverage in an area 200 times larger than a normal tower.

But one of the challenges is that a carrier needs several balloons at a time, each balloon costs tens of thousands of dollars, and can only be used for about five months.

Loon launched a pilot project in Kenya in 2020. Due to regulatory delays, the project was several years later than originally planned. Its partner Telkom Kenya did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Previously, this technology has been successful in short-term projects that can provide cellular coverage in Peru and Puerto Rico for the collapse of cellular towers caused by natural disasters. The company has advertised to various countries and international organizations that it has signed a contract with Loon to fly in an emergency situation in the future, but the towing power is low.

Loon said it may share its technology with operators, governments or non-profit organizations to bring high-speed internet to the last few places in the world.

As of 2019, the company has 200 employees. That year, the company received a US$125 million (approximately 9.1 billion rupees) investment from SoftBank’s HAPSMobile, which is committed to the development of drone floating battery equipment.

HAPSMobile declined to comment on the financial impact of Loon’s closure, but said it would “continue to work towards our goal of developing commercial business”.

In addition, companies supported by billionaire entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos, continue to consider Earth-orbiting satellites provide Internet connectivity.

Alphabet has previously closed so-called “other bets” or entities separated from Google, such as those engaged in kite development. Alphabet has urged some “bets” to raise funds from other investors or become self-sufficient. Luen strives to attract investment.

The company maintains at least one “bet” against the sky-Wing, whose purpose is to commercialize drone commodity delivery.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©


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