By CultureBanx Team
- Google is shuttering its internet bal-“loon” venture
- In 2018, Loon provided coverage to rural and suburban areas of Kenya
Google’s (GOOGL +1.10%) sky high internet bal-“Loon” ambitions have burst, with the company winding down its operations. While still under Alphabet’s X department, the research lab of the company and once called “Project Loon” was deployed twice after natural disasters to affected areas. In 2018, Loon provided coverage to rural and suburban areas of Kenya. The company hoped that every new person they were able to connect to the internet could potentially turn into a paying customer.
Why This Matters: In 2019, SoftBank unit HAPSMobile invested $125 million into Loon. The companies said they would team up to “bring more people, places, and things online,” but that never happened. In the beginning it was all good in the air when Loon officially moved from project-status to a full subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet back in 2018. Its first task in Africa was to use the internet-connectable high-altitude balloons to provide coverage to rural and suburban areas of Kenya.
In 2019, SoftBank unit HAPSMobile invested $125 million into Loon
“While we’ve found a number of willing partners along the way, we haven’t found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business,” Loon’s CEO wrote in a medium post.
How does Loon work? The balloons are similar in practice to traditional weather balloons, floating at 60,000 feet above sea level, but offer fourth-generation (4G) wireless connect-ability and are steered by artificial intelligence. A single balloon is able to provide 200 times the coverage of a cellphone tower. This allowed for uninterrupted access during higher seasonal demand, redistribution in customer fluctuations and an added life-saving measure to better provide emergency response to the surrounding areas.
Situational Awareness: Since only 28% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people have access to the internet, according to a 2019 report by the Alliance for Affordable Internet, these balloons could have really opened up the world wide web to remote parts of Africa.
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