Amidst the shadow of doubt cast by potential customers over its viability, Google’s balloon cell service faces decisive test.
A tennis-court sized helium balloon is all set to reach Kenya in the weeks to follow for its first ever commercial test. Loon has proved its worth when earthquake struck wireless cell-carriers in Puerto Rico and Peru used it to replace downed towers.
- Loon, originally Project Loon started off in 2011 with the aim of providing networking in remote areas
- The networking gear is solar powered and floats high up in the stratosphere. It was later acquired by Alphabet and developed under Google’s Project X
- In 2017, while Loon was testing waters in Peru. Peru was struck by a natural calamity. Loon came in to alleviate areas with disrupted networking.
- In 2018, Loon turned into a full-fledged business and gearing up to provide networking to Kenya’s remotest regions
- However, it faces aerial competition, including Facebook’s ‘Aquila’. Its technical viability and profitability has also been questioned
Will Loon be able to maneuver through strong headwinds, both literally and figuratively, trying to throw it off course ?
Telkom Indonesia (TLKM.JK), Vodafone New Zealand (IPO-VOD.NZ) and French giant Orange SA (ORAN.PA) are skeptical of Loon’s long-term success. They demand and wait for ‘positive results’. At the same time, Loon faces a lawsuit. The plaintiff, a competitor, alleges that its balloon ideas were swiped by Google