Google’s plan to bring internet connections to remote regions was a noble one, but its balloon-based project failed to get off the ground. Fortunately, however, that same tech has helped to inspire a more promising avenue involving laser communications and the cloud.
Providing remote regions with solid internet connections has been a major ambition within Silicon Valley for years. Attempts thus far, however, have been largely unsuccessful.
Up until the project was disbanded just last year, Alphabet’s ‘Loon’ had provided the most promising avenue to bringing billions more online with high-speed internet.
Its idea of releasing fleets of autonomous balloons equipped with internet antennas was undeniably cool, but beset by many logistical drawbacks. Despite successfully bringing connectivity to Puerto Rico – after a hurricane destroyed the island’s telecoms in 2017 – scaling up the tech in the following years became too difficult.
Citing an inability to bring costs low enough for ‘long term, sustainable business,’ Google’s project team decided to call it a day. Fortunately, however, the tech has since been inherited by another start-up with its own ideas called Aalyria.
Equally as ambitious as its predecessor, this idea involves transmitting an internet connection through ultra-concentrated beams of light – or ‘frickin’ laser beams,’ as Doctor Evil would say.
In the context of the Loon project, this same technology was created merely to connect balloons together over large distances, but revisions since have turned it into the main attraction.