Alphabet’s new telecoms spin-out Aalyria is Loon without the balloon

14 Sep 2022

Image: Aalyria

Aalyria is on a mission to revolutionise high-speed connectivity across land and space, bringing internet services to the 3bn people who don’t have it yet.

More than a year after sunsetting its balloon-based internet connectivity project Loon, Alphabet has spun out a start-up based on the same tech but without the balloons.

Aalyria launched yesterday (13 September) as an independent telecoms technology business, on a mission to revolutionise the speed at which network connectivity is possible across land, sea, air and space.

Using a combination of advanced software and laser-based communications tech, Aalyria said it is 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”.

The company, which counts ex-Google, Amazon, Meta and NASA technical experts in its team, is now commercialising these technologies with private and public sector partners. It has already secured an initial $8m defence contract with a US government organisation.

“These technologies set the new standard for intelligently orchestrating, managing and extending mesh networks across all domains – land, sea, air and space – to create connectivity everywhere, no matter the protocol,” said Chris Taylor, CEO and founder of Aalyria.

Taylor added that connectivity on planes, trains, cars, ships as well as in space stations, lunar base camps and even Mars rovers “ought to be as good as it is in your home”.

By orchestrating “cross-constellation inter-satellite links” that enable networking between government and commercial constellation providers, Aalyria said it will be able to help connect the remaining 3bn people who do not have internet access.

“We can do this today – and at scale,” Taylor said. “Aalyria is the digital cartilage and autonomous brain that allows everything to internetwork.”

Alphabet’s Loon project had a similar mission. Spinning out as its own company in 2018, it was focused on building high-altitude balloons that could carry equipment for beaming cellular connectivity into remote areas that would be otherwise cut off from internet services.

Loon was abandoned last year, however, as its path to commercial viability was deemed “much longer and riskier than hoped”. But that was not the end of the story for the effort put into developing the technology behind Loon.

“We hope that Loon is a stepping stone to future technologies and businesses that can fill in blank spots on the globe’s map of connectivity. To accelerate that, we’ll be exploring options to take some of Loon’s technology forward,” Astro Teller, head of Alphabet’s X lab, said at the time.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic