Google parent company Alphabet has decided to shut down Project Loon that provided internet connectivity through the floating balloon. Loon is one of the company’s long term bet that intended to provide internet to far flung and rural areas around the world. Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said that they got several partners who were willing to get associated along the way but they couldn’t found a way to reduce the costs to build a sustainable long term business. “It is always risky to develop a radical new technology. But this does not make sharing this piece of information any easier. I am very sad to share this news today. Project Loon is shutting down,” Westgarth said in a blog post.
Project Loon was born out of X, an ambitious and exploratory wing of Alphabet which has also developed delivery drone service and driverless car for the company. However, Alphabet said that the business model of Loon is not sustainable because of high costs. Westgarth said that the high cost of operation is the biggest reason behind this decision. “We did not hope that the road to commercial viability will this longer and riskier too,” Astro Teller said in a blog post. Teller, who is heading X, said, “This has forced us to take the difficult decision of closing down Loon,”
Alphabet launched Loon in 2013 as a moonshot of the X division and graduated to an independent company in 2018. The company launched its first ever commercial service in July. The location of the floating internet balloon services was Kenya. It comprised of 35 balloons and covered an area of almost 50,000 square kilometres. Loon even deployed these balloons to Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017 and in Peru following an earthquake in 2019. But the services of Loon are being shut. The announcement to shutdown Loon came close on the heels of shutting down of another experimental business called Makani.
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