The subsidiary Loon founded for this purpose is closed.
Google had already introduced the large balloons that can stay in the air for weeks in 2013. The idea was that remote and sparsely populated areas could be supplied with Internet in this way more cheaply than with conventional telecommunications infrastructure. In the meantime, Google and Facebook also tried drones for this purpose, but gave up these plans relatively quickly.
The project was brought into the independent company Loon in 2018 under the umbrella of the parent company Alphabet, which was created later. Only last year Loon started supplying a region in Kenya in cooperation with a local network operator.
Wouldn’t have made a profit
The balloons float around and transmit data to each other. But in the end it was even more difficult to build a business model. Internet access has become available in more and more regions in recent years – and in the remaining regions it is too expensive or uninteresting for the residents.
The refore he came to the conclusion that Loon would never make a contribution to the profits of the group, said the head of the alphabet innovation laboratory X, Astro Teller, the magazine “Wired”. Nevertheless, he regards it as a successful experiment: “True failure is when the data shows that you are not doing the right thing – and you continue anyway.” In contrast to Alphabet, star entrepreneur Elon Musk in Silicon Valley sees a perspective, even in remote areas from the air with an internet connection. With the Starlink project, his space company SpaceX is not relying on balloons or drones, but on a fleet of up to 42,000 satellites to create a global broadband internet belt around the world.
The Starlink satellites fly in a relatively low orbit at an altitude of 550 kilometers, while the Loom balloons float much closer to the earth’s surface, namely at an altitude of 20 kilometers.
Starlink vor Launch in USA, Kanada & Deutschland
So far, Starlink has around 900 satellites in orbit. That shouldn’t just be enough to supply large parts of the USA and Canada. A start of the service is also expected in Germany. However, the market launch in Germany promised for the end of 2020 did not materialize. In the US, Starlink’s beta test program “Better-than-Nothing” demands 500 dollars (411.25 euros) from its customers for a starter package with satellite dish and receiver including WLAN router.
The re are also $ 99 monthly fees. In return, customers get the Internet 95 percent of the time.
The Astra services are offered by the service providers Filiago and Novostream, the satellite connections from Eutelsat are marketed by the companies Bigblu, Eusanet, SkyDSL and StarDSL.
The prices currently demanded in Germany range between 30 and 150 euros per month. A maximum download speed of up to 100 Mbit per second is promised for this. However, satellite connections are – similar to cellular networks or cable connections – a “shared medium”.
The tariffs are usually not a flat rate, but limit the data volume per month, also to ensure the profitability of the service.
The y are expected to sink to earth over the next nine months and will then be collected.
The most famous innovation project to date is the robot car company Waymo, which is considered a leading player in autonomous driving and has also attracted external investors.