Alphabet's Loon forms advisory board as it works to build commercial business

Loon's business model is to partner with global telcos to expand Internet coverage to underserved areas.

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Loon, the former Google X project and now independent Alphabet company, announced on Tuesday that it's formed a new advisory board to aid in its transition into a commercial business. Loon's business model is to partner with global telcos to expand Internet coverage to underserved areas. 

To that end, the company's new board of advisors bring along decades of experience in the telco space, and Loon hopes to use those connections and knowhow to bolster its position as an alternative Internet provider and wireless infrastructure partner. 

The advisory board includes Craig McCaw, who built McCaw Cellular and sold the network to AT&T; Ian Small, formerly the chief data officer at Telefonica S.A. and the current CEO of Evernote; and Marni Walden, a longtime Verizon executive.

"In the early days of Loon, the focus was on the technology," wrote Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth, in a blog post. "After years of trying to prove that Loon would not work, we were pleased to conclude that indeed it could work. The next question was how to get this technology to people who actually need it. We quickly realized that as a business with the mission of connecting people everywhere, our path to success is to partner with those who have significant experience connecting people every day."

Loon expects to kick off its first commercial deal in Kenya some time this year. The former X project was spun out as an independent company last July alongside Wing, Alphabet's drone business. 

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