Loon Stories January 21

One of X’s more well-known projects used balloons to deliver internet service to areas that lack existing network infrastructure. Alphabet announced today that it was shutting down Loon given difficulties commercializing the effort.

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Loon Stories July 7, 2020

A little over seven years ago, Google revealed that it was working to provide internet via balloons floating in the stratosphere. Loon, now an independent Alphabet company, today announced its first commercial operation in partnership with an internet service provider in Kenya.

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Loon Stories May 6, 2020

Alphabet’s Loon partners w/ AT&T to deploy internet balloons for disaster areas

Alphabet’s Loon company has been working for the past few years on developing balloons to the stratosphere that can deliver internet connectivity to certain areas of the globe. Today, Loon has announced a partnership with AT&T that could speed up the process of deploying the balloons in disaster areas.

Loon Stories July 23, 2019

Loon is Alphabet’s moonshot for providing worldwide internet access via high-flying balloons. The independent company today announced that its vehicles have flown over 1 million hours in the Earth’s stratosphere.

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Loon Stories July 2, 2019

Project Loon is now set for its first commercial trial of a permanent ballooned-powered internet service — once approval is provided.

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Loon Stories May 29, 2019

Loon is focussed on providing connectivity around the world via atmospheric balloons. Useful during natural disasters, the Alphabet company again demonstrated the versatility of its approach by quickly providing LTE connectivity after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Peru.

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Loon Stories April 25, 2019

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.

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Loon Stories February 1, 2019

Loon has developed a number of technologies from ground launchers to wind navigation since its inception as a moonshot in X. The independent Alphabet company is now applying the tech responsible for ensuring connectivity between the moving parts of a balloon network to low Earth orbit satellites.

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Loon Stories July 11, 2018

Two of X’s aerial projects are graduating from the Moonshot Factory today to become independent Alphabet companies like Waymo and Verily. Dropping the “project” status, Loon will continue to deliver internet via balloons, while Wing is focusing on a variety of drone-related efforts.

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Loon Stories December 15, 2017

Alphabet’s innovations lab, X, is testing a new approach to bringing Internet connectivity to people in developing countries. In addition to floating Wi-Fi hotspots in balloons, it is now using laser beam links which it has described as ‘just like fibre optic cable, but without the cable’ …

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Loon Stories November 9, 2017

Project Loon’s deployment of emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico in under a month is quite an impressive technological feat. By the end of October, AT&T and T-Mobile customers could connect to LTE from these miles-high balloons. Alphabet’s X division noted today that over 100,000 people have now benefited from this service.

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Loon Stories October 20, 2017

Update 10/27: T-Mobile customers in Puerto Rico can now connect to Project Loon for emergency internet service. X also revealed that over the past week the balloons have provided connectivity to “tens of thousands.”


Earlier this month, Project Loon was granted authorization to provide emergency service to Puerto Rico using their balloons. Today, the Alphabet division announced that in partnership with AT&T it began providing LTE service to the hurricane-stricken island.

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Loon Stories October 6, 2017

Last week, the Project Loon team revealed that it was exploring the possibility of deploying balloons to provide “emergency connectivity” to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Earlier today, Alphabet’s X division was granted permission by the FCC to provide emergency LTE coverage to the island.

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Loon Stories July 10, 2017

Most of a key Project Loon patent has been cancelled by the US Patent and Trademark Office after another company succeeded in convincing the agency that it came up with the idea first.

Project Loon uses free-floating balloons to provide Internet access to remote areas, beaming down Wi-Fi from overhead. The patent which has been cancelled relates to how Alphabet steers the balloons …

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Loon Stories February 16, 2017

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Astro Teller, the head of Alphabet’s X unit, is today holding a press conference to discuss the ongoing progress of the Mountain View company’s Project Loon initiative. Among other things, Teller said that Loon is ditching the idea of having a “constant stream” of balloons floating around the globe…

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Loon Stories September 26, 2016

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Google-related news may be all about Pixel, Nexus and Andromeda right now, but such a narrowed down field of topics would neglect the actual number of things the company — or, rather, the parent Alphabet — is actively working on; a big number. And one of its craziest, most interesting projects is Project Loon, which made extraordinary progress over the past few months…

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Loon Stories May 24, 2016

In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand. Google is testing the balloons which sail in the stratosphere and beam the Internet to Earth. (AP Photo/Jon Shenk) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand. Google is testing the balloons which sail in the stratosphere and beam the Internet to Earth. (AP Photo/Jon Shenk) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Google is finally about to get the go ahead from the Indian government to run a pilot of Project Loon in India according to a report from the Economic Times. According to the sites source, an anonymous “top government official”, the nation is keen to test as many alternative methods of providing internet connectivity as possible. One of which is Google’s high-altitude balloons.

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Loon Stories March 7, 2016

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Google is pushing forward with its Project Loon plans to bring Internet access to remote parts of India as The Economic Times today reported the company is currently in talks with local telecommunications providers.

The publication spoke with Google India chief Rajan Ananda who confirmed the talks with local providers for Loon without naming specific companies, but the report noted telco BSNL among other unnamed companies are actively included in the discussions.

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Loon Stories March 3, 2016

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Google is working on something outlandish in the middle of New Mexico, according to recently filed FCC documents. The documents, first discovered by HackADay, show that Google is currently testing a 100KW radio transmitter at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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Loon Stories February 26, 2016

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Project Loon is undoubtedly one of Google’s most inventive and ambitious projects to date. Formerly part of the Google X group, now under the ‘X’ Alphabet sub-division, these airborne signal boosters will provide high speed LTE coverage to rural areas in a number of developing markets. Sri Lanka and Indonesia are set to be among the first regions to get these stratospheric floating towers. In a G+ post, the team showed off how they get the balloons off the ground…

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Loon Stories February 16, 2016

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Google’s parent company Alphabet told a TED conference in Vancouver that its Project Loon Internet-delivery balloons had successfully delivered speeds of 15Mbps – fast enough for streaming video. It is preparing for carrier tests in Indonesia and elsewhere this year.

Alphabet X head Astro Teller said that the company tried a lot of unsuccessful balloon designs before finally finding one that was up to the job, reports Re/code.

There were shiny balloons and round balloons and balloons that looked like giant pillows. But eventually the company found a design that could be made cheaply and still navigate precisely. That balloon, Teller said, last year travelled around the world 19 times over 187 days last year.

Teller also shared a key part of the company’s approach to Alphabet X projects, along with details of two which the company has abandoned …

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Loon Stories February 1, 2016

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According to a report from The Guardian, Google is currently in the process of testing solar-powered drones at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The company is reportedly testing the possibility of using these solar-powered drones to deliver high-speed internet from the air. Google, of course, also has its Project Loon effort, which uses high-alitude balloons to beam down internet service to the areas below. It’s unclear, at this point, if the two efforts are related or will be used in different scenarios.

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Loon Stories January 29, 2016

In this June 10, 2013 photo released by Jon Shenk, a Google balloon sails through the air with the Southern Alps mountains in the background, in Tekapo, New Zealand. Google is testing the balloons which sail in the stratosphere and beam the Internet to Earth. (AP Photo/Jon Shenk) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

It’s two-and-a-half years since Google first shared details of Project Loon, a series of high-altitude balloons designed to provide wireless Internet access to developing countries where infrastructure is scarce. As testing expands, and we’ve learned more about the project’s progress, the FCC has started to receive objections from those concerned that the long-range microwave transmissions might pose health risks or interfere with other wireless operations.

Google has this week written to the FCC to argue that the balloons are both safe and legal …

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Loon Stories December 1, 2015

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If you don’t follow Google as closely as we do here at 9to5Google (chances are you probably don’t), Nat & Lo’s videos are a great way to get yourself acquainted with the happenings in and around the Mountain View company. This couple of Googlers use their 20% time to make videos about the inner workings of Google itself, and the end product is an easy-to-understand look at some of Google’s most obscure (and not-so-obscure) projects.

This week, Nat & Lo are taking us on a tour of Project Loon, one of Google’s efforts to bring internet to the entire world… expand full story

Loon Stories November 25, 2015

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According to a recent filing with the FCC, Google is looking to test something with experimental radios that use a wireless spectrum in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico. The details on these tests are incredibly sparse at this point, but Google wants to start the process on January 1st and test for 24 months (via BI).

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Loon Stories November 3, 2015

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Google co-founder and now Alphabet CEO Larry Page has given his first major interview since the formation of Alphabet, addressing a wide range of topics which include his concerns about heading into uncharted territory with the company, privacy, Project Loon and Steve Jobs …  expand full story

Loon Stories October 28, 2015

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Google X’s incredibly ambitious Project Loon is expanding into another country soon. Parent company Alphabet today announced that it is teaming up with the three largest wireless carriers in Indonesia to test its Project Loon in Indonesia beginning next year. Google is targeting Indonesia because it is the fourth most populous country in the world, but two-thirds of its citizens lack access to Internet.

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Loon Stories July 29, 2015

Sri Lanka might become the first country in the world to have its Internet covered by Project Loon

Google’s Project Loon has been in development for a couple of years now, and it’s finally signed up its first official partner: Sri Lanka. The deal between the government of Sri Lanka and Project Loon will see the nation become the world’s first to be fully covered by Loon’s floating towers.

Sri Lanka’s IT minister, in a statement to Lanka Business Online said: “As a result of this agreement, the entire Sri Lankan island – every village from Dondra to Point Pedro – will be covered with affordable high speed internet using Google Loon’s balloon technology.”

This news comes shortly after the hot-air balloon Internet tech was upgraded to act more like a mesh to provide faster, more consistent Internet coverage. They’ll launch 13 balloons over the next few months, and see the network size grow over time afterwards.

It’s a pretty exciting time for the small nation which typically has little rural coverage. Google’s balloons represent a saving in transmission costs, and will bring LTE network coverage to those who previously had nothing.

Loon Stories May 29, 2015

Google’s Loon balloons can now launch faster, act like a mesh network

For one reason or another, roughly 4.4 billion people around the world are still without reliable, consistent access to an Internet signal. Google’s mission since its very founding has been to “organize the world’s knowledge,” but that isn’t so easy when vast amounts of information can’t even get online, which is one reason why its Project Loon balloons for spreading Internet by hot air balloons exists. The technology giant has made a lot of progress since announcing the project to the public in 2013, with recent tests seeing the balloons travel over 5,000 miles and provide hours of connectivity to locations that had otherwise never seen it before. Today Google is sharing two improvements that it has introduced to the project.

The first is that the team has created a 50-foot launcher called Autolauncher which cuts take-off time down to 15 minutes from 45 previously. The cube-shaped unit (pictured above) does this in a couple ways: it provides tall canvas sides to block winds up to 15 MPH (winds of 6 MPH or greater are prohibitive to take-off), it clamps down the balloon into place until take-off, and it provides a perch for the antenna which provides Internet so as to prevent it from swinging and setting the balloon off its trajectory.

The second improvement to Project Loon is that the balloons can now communicate with one another. Previously to beam Internet to the ground each balloon needed to be within 50 miles of the ground station of a telecommunications company that it would gain its LTE spectrum from. Now, however, the balloons can be anywhere from 250 to 500 miles from a station because balloons closer to a ground station can pass high-frequency signals between each other. This is the same idea as neighborhood mesh networks, where cheap routers can communicate with each other, share WiFi, and continue to communicate with each other even if the public Internet goes down. As a result, Google can now provide Internet to an entire region like West Africa with fewer expensive ground stations than before.

The hope now is to successfully provide a few days of continuous service at a time within its test areas (wind has proven to be a big challenge to doing this), and once it overcomes the challenges to accomplishing that it wants to roll out service to underserved markets such as Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, ideally by the end of 2016.

Loon Stories March 17, 2015

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Google’s head of Google[x] Astro Teller took the stage today at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, to talk about the Mountain View company’s secretive experimental lab and the things that the team has learned over years of showing its ambitious projects to the world (via The Verge). Teller spent a lot of time talking about Google Glass—which is definitely one the better known projects to come out of Google[x]—and how this fame was actually part of where Google failed…

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Loon Stories March 2, 2015

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Google SVP Sundar Pichai sat down with Bloomberg’s Brad Stone at the Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Spain, and as happens often, he had some pretty interesting things to say. Among other topics, the Chrome and Android lead at Google talked about the company’s goals for improving the world’s Internet connectivity through various projects (including the company’s MVNO plans), Google’s further mobile payment ambitions with Android Pay, how Android will tie into virtual reality, and more… expand full story

Loon Stories February 16, 2015

Astro-teller

Google X boss Astro Teller spoke with the New York Times on the topic of the experimental lab and the value it produces for the company, saying that the X lab’s goal is to find new technology markets that the Mountain View company can jump into and problems it can solve.

According to Teller, Google gives X projects a longer period of time in which to prove they can become profitable. He specifically highlights the “Neural Network Project” (previously known as Google Brain) as one project that has turned a serious profit. In fact, Brain is now bringing in enough “value” to offset the costs of running the entire X lab, Teller says:

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Loon Stories November 20, 2014

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Google is busy working on bringing Internet access to the masses through its balloon-powered Project Loon program and today the outfit shared some impressive statistics related to the project’s progress. One of the company’s biggest advancements is that its balloons can now last 10 times longer in the stratosphere than they were able to last year. The tech giant also noted that most of its floating Internet stations are lasting 100 days and some even surviving up to 130 days.

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Loon Stories November 17, 2014

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Project Loon, Google’s ambitious balloon-based project to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population who don’t yet have it, is about to begin its first live tests with a real carrier, reports The Guardian.

Australian carrier Telstra is providing base stations and part of its radio spectrum to allow Google to carry out tests with 20 balloons. The base stations will provide a two-way radio link with the balloons, which will then broadcast an LTE signal back to the ground – each balloon providing a signal across up to 600 square miles …  expand full story

Loon Stories September 23, 2014

Founder Sebastian Thrun left Google X in August, now serves solely as an advisor

Google X founder and Google VP Sebastian Thrun decided to leave his position last month, according to a change on his LinkedIn page picked up by TechCrunch. As confirmed by Google earlier today, Thrun will remain in an advisory role only at Google.

Thrun was a driving force behind the company’s efforts to build an automated car and also previously headed up the Google Glass project. However, both projects have since been passed to other leaders. The Google X division has also been the source of a variety of sometimes-outlandish technology, including smart contact lenses and balloon-powered Internet access.

Loon Stories September 2, 2014

Google satellite exec Greg Wyler reportedly leaves the company after just a few months

Google has not been quiet in its efforts to build a network of satellites that provide Internet access to the users below. A report earlier this year pegged the company as planning to spend more than $1 billion on satellite programs, while it also acquired satellite imaging company Skybox for $500 million this summer.  According to a new report out of The Information, however, Google’s satellite efforts have just taken a big hit.

Loon Stories June 1, 2014

fiber

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning to spend more than $1 billion to expand internet access to unwired regions of the world with a fleet of satellites. According to “people familiar with the matter,” Google this time around is hoping that it can overcome financial and technical problems it has faced in the past with this goal.

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Loon Stories May 15, 2014

future

In Google’s annual Founders Letter, Larry Page revealed that Google was handling more than 100 billion searches a month, but said that the service was still “a million miles” from the service he’d like to see Google become.

In many ways, we’re a million miles away from creating the search engine of my dreams, one that gets you just the right information at the exact moment you need it with almost no effort.  That’s partly because understanding information in a deep way is a hard problem to solve …

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Loon Stories June 14, 2013

We’ve seen several reports of Google wanting to bring Internet access to emerging-countries, and the company has now announced a project that will greatly help it accomplish that goal. In a post on the official Google blog,  Mike Cassidy announced the next “moonshot” from Google’s mysterious X lab, balloon-powered Internet access.

Google believes that it might be possible to build a ring of balloons that travel around the globe on the stratospheric winds and provide Internet service to the earth below. The company does warn us that this idea is still in the very early days of development, but says that it has built a system that uses balloons carried by winds at altitudes as high as planes and beams Internet at speeds as fast or faster than current 3G networks.  expand full story

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