Alphabet is shutting down Loon despite calling it a 'successful experiment' | Tech News

Alphabet is shutting down Loon despite calling it a 'successful experiment'

Alphabet has decided to no longer invest in Loon, the project that used balloons to deliver internet services to areas that lacked network infrastructure. The company said that it was not a long-term, sustainable business.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 14:34 IST
Loon has partnered with a handful of carriers around the world since 2018 and has proved to be quite useful at delivering emergency internet access after natural disasters left places ravaged.
Loon has partnered with a handful of carriers around the world since 2018 and has proved to be quite useful at delivering emergency internet access after natural disasters left places ravaged. (Google/Medium)
Loon has partnered with a handful of carriers around the world since 2018 and has proved to be quite useful at delivering emergency internet access after natural disasters left places ravaged.
Loon has partnered with a handful of carriers around the world since 2018 and has proved to be quite useful at delivering emergency internet access after natural disasters left places ravaged. (Google/Medium)

One of Google X's well-known projects, the Loon, that used balloons to deliver internet services to places that lacked existing network infrastructure is being shut down. Google's parent company, Alphabet, has announced that they are shutting down Loon because it has been difficult to commercialise the project.

Project Loon was officially announced in 2013 as a part of Google X and followed the Moonshot Factory to Alphabet before “graduating” in July 2018. Loon has partnered with a handful of carriers around the world since and has proved to be quite useful at delivering emergency internet access after natural disasters left places ravaged.

As reported by Wired, Alphabet has taken a call to not invest in Loon any further. The official blog post states that the main problem is not being able to get the costs low enough “to build a long-term, sustainable business”.

Also Read: Google's Helium balloons stayed in air for almost a year, providing internet

“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. 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. Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn't make breaking this news any easier. Today, I'm sad to share that Loon will be winding down,” wrote Alastair Westgarth.

Google X chief Astro Teller who also chairs the Loon board was the one who recommended that Alphabet no longer fund it. However, Teller did call the project a “successful experiment” but not a viable business as “no one wanted to pick up the mantle”.

As the Wired writes - “Loon was a success, he (Teller) says, because once it was clear that it would never become a viable business, or solve internet connectivity, he called it quits.”

Since 2019, Loon has been operating a pilot service in Kenya and that will end on March 1 as it works to bring down the balloons that are still operating.

“We wanted Loon to be a beautiful solution to a seemingly unsolvable problem,” said Teller.

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First Published Date: 22 Jan, 12:37 IST
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