As the old adage says, "what goes up must come down," and that's literally what's happening to Project Loon. Alphabet's X subsidiary (formerly Google X) was responsible for the idea of beaming internet to rural areas with the help of balloons, but CEO Astro Teller has announced that Loon will be winding down operations in the coming months.
It looks like the project ended up being too expensive to make it worthwhile. "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," wrote Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth.
A Loon communications payload.
It all started as an experiment back in 2013 that aimed to bring affordable internet access with the help of balloons that would float in tandem, up in the stratosphere. The venture wasn't a complete failure since it spawned various new technologies that will continue to live on and potentially help future projects. For instance, Google's Project Taara will directly benefit from the high bandwidth (20Gbps+) optical communication links that were developed for Project Loon.
The company also had success in launching a pilot program in Kenya that brought 4G to remote parts of the country and in aiding disaster-stricken areas such as Puerto Rico and Peru by supplying them with connectivity.