Alphabet pulls the pin on its Project Loon internet balloons
Google’s parent company Alphabet has decided to ground a venture aimed at bringing internet connectivity to remote corners of the globe through stratospheric balloons. The firm announced today that its Project Loon will be winding down, with the costs of developing and deploying this type of technology proving unsustainable for the long-term.
Project Loon first popped up as a Google side project way back in 2013, with the company hoping to use internet-beaming balloons drifting through the stratosphere to offer broadband connectivity in rural areas.
In the years since, we've seen the team advance it navigation software to enable clusters of balloons to target very specific regions, while the technology has been tested out in New Zealand and Brazil. The technology has also helped fill gaps in communications in storm ravaged Puerto Rico and served remote parts of Kenya.
While these were promising steps forward for the Project Loon team, it seems that the financial burden of developing this technology and using it in the real world was ultimately too much to bear, which reflected in the end cost for the users.
“While we’ve found a number of willing partners along the way, we haven’t found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business,” Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth writes in a blog post announcing the news.
The post also mentions that the idea of connecting “the last billion users" is the hardest problem of all in connectivity, and that in those difficult-to-reach communities, the service was just too expensive for everyday people.