Alphabet abandons balloon project for Internet supply

Google parent company Alphabet is ending its attempt to supply remote regions of the world with fast Internet using balloons. The subsidiary Loon, founded for this purpose, is closed.

A Loon balloon at launch in Nevada, 2013. (Source:

"We have not found a way to reduce costs to the point where a long-term sustainable business is possible," Loon chief executive Alastair Westgarth wrote in a blog post Friday. Google had unveiled the large balloons, which can stay aloft for months, back in 2013. The idea was that remote and sparsely populated areas could be supplied with Internet more cheaply in this way than with conventional telecommunications infrastructure.

In the meantime, Google and Facebook also tried out drones for this purpose, but abandoned these plans relatively quickly. Google, on the other hand, did see business potential in balloons. Under the umbrella of the later created parent company Alphabet, the project was brought into the independent company Loon in 2018.

Just last year, Loon launched coverage for a region in Kenya in cooperation with a local network operator. Alphabet makes future bets like Loon cost billions year after year, while Google's core business with online advertising continues to provide the money. The group's best-known innovation project to date is the robot car company Waymo, which is considered a leading player in autonomous driving. (SDA)

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