Despite the promise and the boldness of the promise, Google’s bets on revolutionizing the Internet and connectivity services haven’t really paid off. For years, projects like a balloon Internet delivery system called Loon and free Wi-Fi in train stations have failed to take off. Now, the company has decided to spin off another project with similar ambitions, but one that actually sounds even more advanced than what SpaceX has achieved so far with its Starlink satellite for Internet delivery.
Aalyria Technologies, a startup led by veteran Google employees, has developed a laser-based system that promises gigabit connectivity anywhere on the planet, plus a suite of software to weave land, air, ocean and space connections into a web of connectivity. The atmospheric laser communication system, known as Tightbeam, is claimed to transmit data faster and cover greater distances than any other solution available today.
It is understood that Tightbeam will touch every connected ranch out there, from ground and air to direct ground space channels. The most significant advantage of this laser-based communication system is that there will be no packet degradation regardless of the weather. According to Aalyria, this innovation can be deployed to augment all aspects of cellular connectivity from Wi-Fi on aircraft to mobile devices and satellites. Thanks to a novel integration of hardware and algorithms, the laser-based communication system can predict the impact of interfering factors like rain and then reverse that impact in a synthetic manner to maintain signal strength.
Aalyria CEO Chris Taylor said, “We can deliver 1 gigabit per second of data to every seat on the plane. In lab tests, the team was able to create a network channel between its headquarters and a mountaintop about 20 miles apart and between a ground-based projector and an antenna mounted on an airplane about 110 miles away.”
By comparison, Starlink’s extensive coverage of satellite Internet service sounds like a snail’s pace. In a recent FCC report, Ookla tests showed that Starlink’s Internet service couldn’t even hold up to the basic line speed mark of 20 Mbps. Under optimal conditions, the service can currently reach peak sustained downlink speeds of about 150 Mbps, according to Ookla.
Laser communications are also being touted as the future of space exploration, and even NASA is dabbling in internal two-way communication systems such as the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and third-party proposals such as the TeraByte Infrared Transmission (TBIRD) system. But Aalyria’s ambitions go even further. The company also has a software product called Spacetime, which can manage the connectivity of any moving object – from satellites in deep and near space to ships and vehicles. The platform can make changes in real time to take into account disruptions at thousands of connection points at any altitude, frequency band and wavelength.