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Google Spinoff Wants to Use Space Lasers for High-Speed Internet on Planes, Mars Rovers

Startup Aalyria says it can deliver speeds up to 1.6 Tbps.

Satellite image of Europe and North Africa at night, overlaid with bright blue dots and lines
3D rendered image of NASA photo illustrating internet and satellite connectivity around the globe.
byakkaya / Getty Images

Aalyria is a new startup spun off from Google parent Alphabet that wants to use lasers to push internet over long distances and deliver speeds of up to 1.6 terabits per second, the company said in a press release Tuesday. That's significantly faster than the gigabit service consumers can get today from high-speed internet providers. 

The Google spinoff says its technology can deliver internet to remote parts of the world and to receivers on celestial bodies, such as a rover on Mars or a lunar base camp.

"We can orchestrate high-speed urban meshes and global unified network operations, and we can help connect the next three billion people," said Chris Taylor, CEO of Aalyria, in the release. "We can do this today – and at scale."

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two technologies Aalyria is touting are Spacetime and Tightbeam. Spacetime is a software platform that manages networks of ground stations, aircraft, satellites, urban meshes and other systems to optimize antennae links across land, sea and air. Tightbeam is an "advanced coherent light free space optics technology" that uses lasers to move data through atmosphere and weather at "100-1,000x faster than anything else available today."

Aalyria says the project is still six to nine months away from deployment.

Illustration sketching out Aalyria's Tightbeam.technology

Screengrab from Aalyria's website demonstrating Tightbeam.

Imad Khan / CNET

So far, Aalyria has gained government support, such as an initial $8 million contract with the Defense Innovation Unit, or DIU, that aims to develop secure internet in space for both the public and private sectors. The new space telecommunications company benefits not only from Google funding, but also from years of research and development in its files. Aalyria comes as Starlink, SpaceX's low-Earth-orbit satellite internet company, continues to make gains in delivering high-speed internet around the globe.

"Aalyria's vision and technical approach enables, for the first time, the complete communications and network solution for integrated deterrence," said Bob Work, former deputy secretary of defense in a press release. "There is nothing else like it."

SpaceX, Aalyria and other signal-based internet companies aim to connect people where physical infrastructure is either impossible or prohibitively expensive. Rather than let people in remote parts rely on older satellite systems that are often slow and less responsive, advances in satellites for low Earth orbit or laser technology can beam high-speed internet in more places. In the case of SpaceX, the satellite internet company has been able to bring high-speed internet to Native American tribes which before had been dealing with speeds as low as 0.3 to 0.7 Mbps. The US government also sees high-speed internet as critical infrastructure, and plans to spend $401 million to upgrade internet access across rural America.

Aalyria rose from the ashes of Loon, a project that Alphabet shut down in 2021. Loon used stratospheric balloons to beam down internet, but was shuttered after being deemed unsustainable financially.