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Google parent Alphabet has announced that it is letting the air out of its internet-beaming balloon project — the latest of the tech giant’s “moonshot” programs to get scrapped.
Loon, which used high-flying balloons to bring internet to remote areas of the globe, will be winding down its operations after it said the technology proved too expensive.
“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 Alastair Westgarth wrote in a blog post. “Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn’t make breaking this news any easier.”
Loon was launched in 2013 as part of Alphabet’s moonshot program, also known as X, which in recent years has killed off other outlandish projects including flying cargo ships and vertical farming.
Loon got spun off into its own company in 2018. It launched its first official commercial project in Kenya over the summer, with 35 balloons covering remote areas of the country.
The team’s balloons were also brought to Puerto Rico after 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria and to Peru in 2019 following an earthquake.
At its peak, a Loon device was capable of delivering mobile internet coverage over an 11,000 square kilometer area, Westgarth wrote.
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