Broadband/Connectivity Mobile Satellite Services News

Alphabet to shut down ‘Loon’

Google X director Astro Teller said Loon had suffered a ‘longer and riskier’ path to viability than planned.

Loon, the Google spinout that hoped to make broadband more accessible using solar-powered balloons, has been shut down by parent company Alphabet.

The company produced balloons capable of flying high up in the stratosphere while enabling internet access down on Earth. The mobile, floating stations were more flexible than typical cell stations, as they’re constantly moving, and for having much wider coverage areas.

In a blog post director of Google’s X division, Astro Teller said Alphabet had made the “difficult decision” to close the firm down. “We’re working to take care of employees and hope to help many find alternative roles at X, Google and Alphabet,” he wrote.

“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.”

Along with the self-driving car unit Waymo, Loon was one of the most hyped “moonshot” technology projects to emerge from Alphabet’s research lab, X. Loon spans out from X in 2018 and was categorized as one of Alphabet’s “Other Bets.”