Project Loon looks likely to be the next part of Alphabet’s X subsidiary to be spun-off into its own independent commercial operation, as it is now officially registered as an incorporated company in the US.
The new identity was revealed in a filing to the FCC earlier this week requesting a temporary licence to provide emergency wireless services in Puerto Rico following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in September. The move to register Project Loon was first noted by Business Insider.
Project Loon is designed to provide cellular connectivity to areas hit by disasters and other areas with access issues using balloons flown in the stratosphere to beam signals to local operators’ ground-based networks.
The company said it completed tests covering millions of kilometres around the world after launching its first trial balloon in New Zealand during 2013.
Project Loon so far operated under the X division of parent company Alphabet, formerly known as Google X. The unit focuses on new, experimental, technologies and was the business responsible for the development of self-driving car project Waymo.
Other projects which are now independent entities include geothermal technology business Dandelion, consumer health company Verily and the enterprise-focused incarnation of its troubled Glass project.
X’s other projects currently under development include Makini, concerned with generating wind energy from kites, and drone goods delivery system Project Wing.
During Mobile World Congress Americas in September the head of Project Loon Alastair Westgarth told Mobile World Live he expected the balloon service to be profitable in the next couple of years.