September 14, 2022
Google’s Project Loon, a plan to use balloons to beam broadband Internet to unserved areas, was shut down in 2021 after eight years, but Loon’s core technologies have propelled a spinout, Aalyria, which is developing advanced networking and laser communications that far exceed anything available today, extending connectivity where there is no infrastructure “at an exponentially greater scale and speed,” according to the company. Aalyria’s first commercial client is the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a division of the U.S. Department of Defense that awarded an $8 million contract to develop high-speed Internet in space.
It wasn’t that long ago that airline Wi-Fi was only a dream. Aalyria has plans to improve that, too. “One part of Aalyria centers on taking software used by the Loon group and turning it into a cloud-based system for managing complex networks that connect things like satellites, planes, and boats with high-speed Internet,” writes Bloomberg.
“Another part of the startup has repurposed a second set of former Google wares to create a line of laser-based wireless networking equipment,” Bloomberg explains. Based in Livermore, California, the new 26-person company “has found some believers in Google, which exchanged rights to its technology for an equity stake,” reports Bloomberg.
Aalyria has tandem sets of engineers developing what it believes will be the networks of the future. A perfect storm of firms like Amazon’s Project Kuiper and Elon Musk’s SpaceX launching “tens of thousands of satellites to beam down the Internet from space” to reach drones and other transit gear coupled with the quandary of “businesses and billions of consumers in remote locations” lacking broadband Internet create a welcome climate for Aalyria, according to Bloomberg.
Spacetime is Aalyria’s intelligent network orchestration technology, while Tightbeam is its advanced atmospheric laser communications technology. Together they enable complex networks at a scale, supporting networks with up to 15 million possible links and wireless connection speeds up to 1.6 Tbps, the company says in its announcement, noting “in the future, it will facilitate the coordination and sharing of network resources across multiple networks with unlimited connections.”
Instead of fiber-optic cable, Aalyria uses laser light to transmit data wirelessly through air and space.
“Alphabet said it transferred almost a decade’s worth of tech, IP, patents, office space and other assets to Aalyria earlier this year,” reports CNBC, noting Aalyria will also improve cellular connectivity. Aalyria’s software has already been used for some of Google’s aerospace ventures, CNBC says, contextualizing the spinout comes as “Google parent Alphabet reckons with a slowdown in ad spending and looks to advance or wind down experimental projects.”