AT&T helps inflate Loon ambitions - Mobile World Live

AT&T helps inflate Loon ambitions

06 MAY 2020

Loon penned a global connectivity deal with US heavyweight AT&T, an agreement the Alphabet subsidiary hailed as a key step in providing disaster recovery services, along with its broader expansion goals.

In a statement, the company explained its high-altitude connectivity system had been integrated with AT&T’s network, a “big deal” because coverage will be extended to the US operator’s “partners around the world”.

Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said network integration was a “time-intensive” process: with the work complete, the time taken to launch the balloons carrying its connectivity systems is cut to a matter of hours or days, from weeks or months previously.

JR Wilson, AT&T VP of tower strategy and roaming, said “delivering reliable connections is central to our mission”, with the deal enabling the operator to “rapidly” restore communications “when disaster strikes and our customers need connection more than ever”.

Going forward
Loon project manager Emily Yousling told Mobile World Live the partnership provided Loon the opportunity to scale its commercial ambitions “across more operators”.

“Our goal with all of these services, including disaster preparedness, is now to grow the product lines and to explore many of the different use cases and commercial applications of high-altitude platform systems.”

Business development manager Henry De Chaille added high-altitude systems are still in a nascent phase, but the AT&T partnership would help demonstrate they are a viable solution, in turn driving interest from “more mobile operators”.

Loon previously teamed with AT&T to provide connectivity to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, when almost all infrastructure on the island was knocked out. It again deployed its services in 2019, following a massive earthquake in Peru.

The company marked a major milestone in March when it gained clearance to begin commercial operations with Telkom Kenya.

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Manny Pham

Manny joined Mobile World Live in September 2019 as a reporter based in London. He has previous experience in telecoms having worked for B2B publication Mobile News for three years where he climbed up to the position of Features Editor....

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