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The End of the High-flying Project Loon

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Earlier, we covered how major tech companies are competing to deliver high-speed Internet to Africa and how innovative projects like Alphabet's Project Loon had progressed towards commercialization in Africa.
Africa internet infrastructure
Innovative projects to deliver reliable high-speed Internet to Africa ( SOURCE, Image: CC-BY-4.0 Attribution: )
Among the numerous achievements of Project Loon, one of the most important milestones was entering into a commercialization phase of development. In July 2020, Alphabet's Project Loon and Telkom Kenya announced the first commercial deployment in Africa, utilizing a fleet of 35 or more polyethylene balloon to provide 4G LTE services to users in central and western Kenya. These balloons would float at 20 kilometers above ground in the stratosphere and provide a coverage area of 50,000km2 to locations that are too difficult or remote to reach by cable.
However, on Jan 22, Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Loon, announced that Loon would wind down operations as a company after 9 years of development. Loon existed 7 years as a Google X project (2011 - 2018) and 2 years as a spin-off company which raised $125M from Softbank's HAPSMobile in 2019.
“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. 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. Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn’t make breaking this news any easier.”
Alastair wrote in a blog post.
With increasing commercialization from alternative non-cable Internet services such as SpaceX Starlink and Amazon Kuiper which operate in the LEO (low earth orbit) space, Loon was ultimately unable to discover a feasible and sustainable business model amidst the intense competition. While Loon will no longer be in service, its technologies will survive and be re-deployed to other divisions of Alphabet's X.
For example, its high bandwidth (20Gbps) optical communications technology, which used to provide connectivity between Loon balloons, has been spun out to Project Taara, a project that seeks to deliver "light-speed" Internet through a network of wireless optical communication links. The Taara team has begun to roll out networks in Sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Kenya.
Still, even with the demise of Loon, the competition to tap the next and last billion Internet users in Africa continues to be a heated race and a multi-dimensional one, from submarine cables to terrestrial fibre networks to optical links to satellite connectivity.