Google parent company's 'internet balloon' project axed after costs remain too high

Google parent company's 'internet balloon' project axed after costs remain too high
© Thinkstock

Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. is dropping its project to develop high-speed internet delivered via signals transmitted from balloons, citing the project's high cost.

The CEO of its subsidiary Loon announced that the spinoff company would be dissolved due to an inability to find ways to reduce the project's considerable costs. The company had planned to develop balloons capable of delivering stable high-speed internet connections to remote areas that would otherwise be unfeasible for internet infrastructure.

"We talk a lot about connecting the next billion users, but the reality is Loon has been chasing the hardest problem of all in connectivity — the last billion users: The communities in areas too difficult or remote to reach, or the areas where delivering service with existing technologies is just too expensive for everyday people," Loon's CEO, Alastair Westgarth, wrote in a Medium post.


"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," he continued.

Loon was part of Alphabet's Google X lab, also known as the tech giant's moonshot factory where the company invests in new and emerging technologies that have yet to find their place on the market. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave Loon permission to work on restoring cell service in Puerto Rico after much of the territory's infrastructure was damaged due to Hurricane Maria. That mission became the company's first success story after it restored service to more than 200,000 people by partnering with two major cellphone carriers.

Other projects in Alphabet's Google X lab include Waymo, Alphabet's venture into self-driving vehicle technologies, as well as Daydream, an incursion into the virtual reality sector.