Loon, the Alphabet subsidiary that uses high-altitude balloons to bring cellular internet service to remote areas, is poised to launch its first commercial trials in Kenya, Reuters reported. This is an important milestone for Loon, a project Google launched in 2011 that has always seemed like one of its more futuristic “mooonshots” and which has overcome numerous technical and regulatory hurdles over the years.
While Loon’s resiliency is unique given Alphabet’s track record of pulling the plug on projects, the jury is out on whether the company can follow through on its promises. Google Fiber, another Alphabet high-speed internet project with a more conventional business model, hasn’t managed to continue its early momentum. The hope is that Loon’s less capital-intensive business model can get the attention of carrier executives who, according to the Reuters article, are taking a wait-and-see stance on its service.