Google’s parent company Alphabet will shut down its Loon internet Program after the company failed to find a sustainable business model and partners.
“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. Today, I’m sad to share that Loon will be winding down,” announced its CEO Alistair Westgarth in a blog.
The pilot service which sought to provide high-speed internet connectivity in remote areas will stop their services in Kenya on March 1 2021. Meanwhile, the project’s team will work with its local partners at Telkom Kenya to wind up operations.
“Loon will continue to provide service with Telkom in Kenya until March 1, this year,” read confirmed a Telekom press release.
The internet project was approved for operations in Kenya in March 2020, providing internet for Kenyans countrywide as they work from home during the pandemic.
The country later received two ballons in April and awaiting eight others, which would expand internet coverage in Nairobi, Machakos, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kitui, Nanyuki, Narok, and Kisii.
Loon’s Way Forward
Following the announcement of its winding down, Loon will work with partners to ensure a smooth and safe. In Kenya, the company has committed a $10 million fund to support nonprofits and businesses focused on connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship and education.
“Although Loon is going away, our commitment to connectivity isn’t. Today we’re pledging a fund of $10M to support nonprofits and businesses focused on connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya,” reads a separate statement.
The company is also considering sharing its learnings and technology with telcos, mobile network operators, governments and tech companies working on improving connectivity.