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Alphabet Scraps Plan to Blanket Globe With Internet Balloons

  • Project Loon says tweaks will bring commercial service sooner
  • New strategy scales back early idea to create global network

In 2013, Google ran its first tests for Project Loon, an ambitious effort to circulate broadband-emitting balloons across the globe. On Thursday, the company said that’s not necessary anymore. 

Executives at the project said they have found ways to run the program with fewer balloons. Rather than building a worldwide network, the team will now launch a small number of balloons into particular regions that need internet access. That will accelerate the project’s path toward becoming an actual commercial operation, the Loon team said. The announcement is consistent with moves across Google parent Alphabet Inc. to curb costs at its riskier, expensive projects.