Alphabet deflates Loon - Mobile World Live

Alphabet deflates Loon

22 JAN 2021

Alphabet pulled the plug on subsidiary Loon, announcing plans to wind down operations due to financial difficulty.

In a blog, Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth explained while it “found a number of willing partners” interested in the balloon-based internet connectivity technology over the past eight years, “we haven’t found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business”.

Loon debuted in June 2013 as a project from Alphabet’s X lab, and became a full subsidiary in July 2018.

In 2020, Loon struck deals with AT&T and Vodacom Group, and launched commercial service with Telekom Kenya. It appears that plans to launch in rural areas of Mozambique with Vodacom by the end of last year did not see success.

Astro Teller, head of Alphabet’s X division, noted in a separate blog Loon operations will wind down over the coming months: the parent company plans to donate $10 million to support non-profits and businesses focused on providing connectivity and education in Kenya.

He added the decision to close was “difficult” and work was underway to repurpose some of its technology.

“We hope that Loon is a stepping stone to future technologies and businesses that can fill in blank spots on the globe’s map of connectivity…We want to share what we’ve learned and help creative innovators find each other”.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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