Alphabet/Google has hired WildBlue Communications co-founder Tom Moore to head the company’s broadband balloon division, aka Project Loon. According to Bloomberg Moore is being brought on board to help guide the company out of the experimental phase and into sustained profitability. Moore starts as a vice president at X and general manager of Project Loon in mid-September, notes the report. Current Loon boss, Mike Cassidy, will remain at Google’s X “moonshot” division to develop and work on newer projects.
Project Loon will use balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft. Ground base stations set some sixty miles apart communicate with solar-powered radio transmitters affixed to the balloons, and Google steers the balloons using wind as they ride the 40th parallel.
Loon saw plenty of critics early on who claimed Google would be lucky to keep its broadband balloons aloft for more than a couple of days. Now, Google’s busy keeping balloons in the air for hundreds of days over thousands of kilometers, and it’s ready for the next big step.
Google/Alphabet has consistently stated that unlike Google Fiber, Loon won’t be focused on providing competitors to existing broadband providers. Instead it will be focused on helping mobile providers expand and supplement their own broadband coverage, especially in connectivity-challenged markets around the globe.
“Tom s valuable industry experience will help launch us into the commercial stage,” Astro Teller, head of X, said in a statement. “We re looking forward to working with telcos around the world to integrate Loon with their networks.”