Alphabet’s Loon, which focuses on bringing balloon-based connectivity to remote areas, is adding former telecom executives from some of the largest mobile operators to a new advisory board focused on commercialization and network operator partnerships.
The three founding members of Loon’s new advisory board include telecom industry veteran Craig McCaw, formerly of McCaw Communications, Nextel and Clearwire, and currently chairman and CEO of private investment firm Eagle River; Marni Walden, who until last year was an executive vice president and president of global media and new business at Verizon; and Ian Small, currently CEO of Evernote and a member of the board of directors of Lumentum, a photonics and laser products company that used to be part of JDSU. Small also previously served as global Chief Data Officer and a member of the executive committee of Telefónica S.A.
In a blog post by Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth, he wrote that “In the early days of Loon, the focus was on the technology. 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. Mobile network operators (MNOs) have decades of experience delivering connectivity to billions of users around the world,” Westgarth wrote. “With Loon’s technology, we see a valuable opportunity to help MNOs reach more people in areas that have been difficult or impossible to serve. Loon is as an infrastructure solution that will allow MNOs to expand their networks and attract new customers.”
Westgarth noted that the advisory board is being formed in the context of Loon transitioning to a commercial business and that the three founding members “will help guide and advise us as we work to partner with MNOs around the world and advance our mission of connecting people everywhere.”
“I first encountered Loon while working at Telefónica, where I was responsible for evaluating how a service like Loon could fit into an existing MNO like Telefónica across its many geographies and the variety of economies it encompasses,” Small said in a statement. “Both at Telefónica and in the time since, I have been incredibly impressed not just with the technology itself, but with the Loon team’s ability to continuously confront and solve a massive variety of technical and business problems in their ongoing quest to deliver a compelling commercial business model for connecting people anywhere.”
“Loon holds a lot of promise for mobile network operators, providing a flexible and cost-effective solution to help reach new customers and better serve existing ones,” said Walden.
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