Loon graduated from the X Moonshot Factory last year to become a full-fledged Alphabet company. SoftBank-owned HAPSMobile today announced a $125 million Loon investment as part of a long-term strategic relationship into high altitude networks.
SoftBank is a massive conglomerate known for large technology investments around the world. It is also a carrier in Japan, with HAPSMobile sharing the same connectivity mission as Loon. Both companies are particularly focussed on high altitude networks that operate in the stratosphere.
With the deployment of such technology, people will be reachable in areas where connectivity is lacking; such as mountainous terrain, remote islands, and developing countries.
Today’s deal sees a $125 million investment into Loon as part of a long-term strategic relationship focussed on high altitude vehicles. Loon in the future can take a similar stake into HAPSMobile.
Loon is contributing balloons, while HAPSMobile has an unmanned aircraft in development that also provides connectivity. Both companies will be able to utilize each other’s technology, and are working to develop a “communications payload that is adaptable to multiple flight vehicles.”
Additionally, the two are working to make sure their respective vehicles can communicate with one another and “share the same network connectivity in the air.” This includes the shared ground stations that beam up the internet connectivity to aerial vehicles.
Furthermore, to strengthen the relationship, the companies are actively exploring commercial collaborations to accelerate the deployment of high altitude network connectivity solutions, with a focus on expanding mobile internet penetration, enabling internet of things (IoT) applications, and assisting in the deployment of 5G.
The Alphabet company is increasingly leveraging and monetizing other technology that it has developed to operate balloons. Of particular value is fleet management and the temporospatial SDN, responsible for routing connections, with HAPSMobile taking advatage of both.
Loon in February also partnered with global satellite operator Telesat to create a network operating system for low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.