Alphabet shut down Loon’s balloon internet project

The project has run into financial problems.

Alphabet has shut down Project Loon, a network of balloons to provide internet access in hard-to-reach regions, CNBC writes.

“Although we have found many partners, we have not found a way to reduce costs to build a long-term and sustainable business,” said Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth. He added that developing new technology is always risky, but that “doesn’t make it any easier to report” that the project is being scrapped.

The project has run into financial problems, The Information wrote. According to the publication, Loon ran out of the investment it had raised in 2019 and the goal for 2021 was to find new investors.

Astro Teller, CEO of X (formerly Google X, a division of Alphabet) and chairman of Loon, said the project would give $10 million to “support non-profit organisations and businesses focused on internet connectivity, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya”. Loon agreed to launch the project in Kenya in March 2020.

The Loon project was launched in the summer of 2013 to provide internet access in remote areas. It is a network of balloons that drift in the stratosphere at an altitude of 20 km. Each blimp is a mobile communications tower, receiving a signal from a telecom operator on the ground. The balloons are equipped with antennas, solar panels, a flight pod with equipment and a parachute.

In early 2020, Alphabet withdrew from another project, Makani, which was building electricity-generating kites.

 

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