Google spinoff aims to provide global connectivity with space lasers

A startup that uses novel connectivity technologies developed by Google promises to ‘revolutionize communications networks across land, sea, air, and space’.

Aalyria announced its emergence from stealth mode with all the hyperbolic claims and lofty aspirations you would expect from a US startup. While not explicitly stated in the press release, it’s clear the company has been formed from elements of Google’s Loon project, on which it pulled the plug at the start of 2021.

Specifically we’re looking at two distinct technologies salvaged from that wreckage. According to the announcement ‘Spacetime is a software platform for orchestrating and managing networks of ground stations, aircraft, satellites, ships, urban meshes, and more.’ It seems to be a kind of SDN on steroids that acts as one network to rule them all.

The other tech is called Tightbeam, which is introduced as ‘the world’s most advanced coherent light free space optics technology’. That’s slightly confusing because the release goes on to say ‘Tightbeam’s coherent light laser moves data intact through the atmosphere and weather, and offers connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists,’ but maybe a better understanding of the qualifying terms would shed more light on the matter (see what we did there?).

“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, founder and CEO of Aalyria. “The connectivity on your plane, train, car, cruise ship, space station, lunar base camp, or Mars rover – and anywhere else in the solar system – ought to be as good as it is in your home.

“We are able to orchestrate cross-constellation inter-satellite links that enable the internetworking of government and commercial constellation providers. We can orchestrate high-speed urban meshes and global unified network operations, and we can help connect the next three billion people. We can do this today – and at scale. Aalyria is the digital cartilage and autonomous brain that allows everything to internetwork.”

“Aalyria offers a cutting-edge Software Defined Network capability and optical network technology that is designed to deal with dynamic links, like space to ground, air to air, air to space and every combination between,” said company advisor and former Google VP of Wireless Services, Milo Medin.

“The future of communications marries ground-based fiber with space, wireless, and optical links to enable the creation of a survivable on-demand network infrastructure, anytime and anywhere, at speeds that remove the network as a bottleneck. This is critical not just for the future of the Joint Force, but for extending the capabilities of the cloud to anywhere on the planet and beyond where the modern enterprise is delivering value.”

You might have discerned, among the breathless evangelising, references to the public sector and specifically the military. Taylor is a former US Marine and national security expert, Aalyria’s board of advisors includes a former deputy secretary of Defense, and it seems it already has a $8.7 million commercial contract with the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit.

That public money, together with the kind of VC interest you might expect for a Google spinoff (in which it retains a minority stake), means Aalyria should have a fighting chance at justifying some of the bold claims being made at its inception. It all seems very utopian at this stage, however, and there is presumably still a long way to go before civilian applications. Nonetheless it’s always good to see new telecoms ‘moon shots’ and look forward to tracking Aalyria’s progress.


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