According to two stories from CNBC and Bloomberg, “Aalyria” is a new Google connectivity offshoot. The new business appears to be taking the technology from the abandoned Project Loon, packaging it under a new brand name, and spinning it off from Alphabet as a standalone business, where it will hopefully survive in the wild. According to reports, the company is going public today, complete with a chic new website.
For eight years, Project Loon was a Google/Alphabet corporation. Its goal was to use flying cell towers strung from weather balloons to deliver Internet to remote locations with poor connectivity. Similar in concept to a low Earth orbit satellite, however, these are objects on Earth.
Loon balloons must constantly be collected and relaunched in addition to navigating the complex atmospheric airways to keep a constant stream of balloons flying overhead. The name “Loon” was picked in part because of how absurd the concept sounds, in addition to being a tribute to large weather balloons.
The infeasibility ultimately turned out to largely merely be a financial issue, and Google closed Loon in 2021, claiming it wasn’t a “long-term, viable business.”
The separation is portrayed in the CNBC story as just another effect of Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s strategy to reduce expenses at Google. Pichai stated in August that the business would be “consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining procedures” since “productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be.”
According to CNBC, Google is seeking to “advance or wind down experimental programs” in order to reduce costs. Waymo is one Alphabet company that has gotten outside money to keep afloat.
The two main technologies used in Aalyria are “Tightbeam” and “Spacetime.” Tightbeam employs a laser to communicate with satellites and appears to have evolved from Project Loon research. Aalyria offers to beam data to space, terrestrial, and airborne targets “at rates faster than any other solutions available today and traversing larger distances than previously envisaged.”
Project Loon used lasers for intra-balloon communication. Aalyria’s likely biggest rival in the race to offer Internet to remote areas is SpaceX, which already use lasers for satellite-to-satellite communication.