Google Spins Out Secret Telecom Project Aalyria

Project Loon successor, Aalyria, seeks to “radically” improve satellite communications, Wi-Fi on planes and ships, and cellular connectivity

Alphabet has spun out its secret hi-speed telecom project called Aalyria, which on Tuesday launched itself as an independent company.

Alphabet said that earlier this year iy transferred almost a decade’s worth of tech, IP, patents, office space and other assets to Aalyria.

Included in this transfer was the remnants of Project Loon, the famous Google and Alphabet project that sought to deliver high speed Internet connectivity to remote locations via the use of high altitude weather balloons.

Project Loon

Aalyria spin-off

In the announcement of the spin off, Aalyria said it has a “mission to orchestrate and manage hyper-fast, ultra-secure, and highly complex communications networks that span land, sea, air, and space.”

It hopes to achieve this via Aalyria’s advanced networking and laser communications technologies that are “capable of orchestrating and managing the most complex networks in the world, and extending them to places where there is no connectivity infrastructure – at an exponentially greater scale and speed than anything that exists today.”

It is understood that Aalyria utilises a light laser technology, which it calls “Tightbeam,” and which it claims to keep data “intact through the atmosphere and weather and offers connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists.”

The new company will commercialise these technologies with both private sector and government partners.

Indeed, it has already securing an initial $8m contract with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to help develop secure internet connectivity throughout the space domain for both private and public sector customers.

Aerospace project

CNBC reported that Aalyria began life as a secret project codenamed “Minkowski” within Google, and that Aalyria’s software platform has been used in multiple aerospace networking projects for Google (i.e. Project Loon).

It reported that the creation of Aalyria comes as Google’s parent Alphabet deals with a slowdown in ad spending, and it seeks to advance or wind down experimental projects.

That in part means seeking external funding for some of the projects that it’s incubated for years, CNBC reported.

It pointed to businesses such as life sciences company Verily and self-driving car maker Waymo have raised money from outside investors, while Alphabet has shuttered initiatives such as Makani, which was building power-generating kites, and internet-beaming balloon business Loon.

The new company will be led by CEO Chris Taylor, a national security expert who has led other companies that have worked with the US government.

Aalyria’s board of advisors includes a number of high profile former Google employees and executives as well as Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist who’s known as one of the fathers of the web.

Google will apparently retain a minority stake in Aalyria, but declined to say how much it owns and how much outside funding the company has raised.

Project Loon

It should be remembered that Alphabet had shut down its moonshot project, known as Project Loon, back in January 2021.

Project Loon had been developed by Google ever since 2011, with the aim of beaming high speed internet connections into large unconnected regions via balloons in the upper atmosphere.

But after nine years, Google confirmed it was closing down the moonshot project, despite it finally winning approval by the Kenyan government in July 2020 to provide 4G connectivity into large rural regions of Kenya.

In May 2020, the Loon division also signed a deal with South African mobile operator Vodacom to deliver high speed internet into two rural provinces in Mozambique from the upper atmosphere.

That project was then shelved.

Prior to that Project Loon was used by American telecom operators to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico after a hurricane in 2017.

Project Loon was also used to restore Internet in Peru after the earthquake there in 2017 and it has also been tested in countries such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia.