Google launches a secret high-speed telecommunications project called Aalyria

Inside Google, a team of techs have been working behind the scenes on software for high-speed communications networks that stretch from earth to space.

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Dubbed “Minkowski” within Google, the secret project is unveiled to the public on Monday in the form of a new spin-out called Aalyria.

While Google declined to offer details about Aalyria, such as how long it’s been working on the technology and how many employees are joining the startup, Aalyria said in a press release that its mission is to manage “networks hyper-fast, ultra-secure and highly complex communications systems that span land, sea, air, near space and deep space.

The company says it has laser communication technology “at a scale and speed exponentially greater than anything in existence today.” Aalyria’s software platform has been used in numerous aerospace networking projects for Google.

The split comes as Google’s parent company, Alphabet, sees ad spending slowing and seeks to advance or end experimental projects. Part of that means seeking external funding for some of the projects he’s been incubating for years. Companies such as life sciences company Verily and self-driving carmaker Waymo have raised funds from outside investors, while Alphabet has raised funds from outside investors Aspects of initiatives such as Makani, which was building energy-generating kites, and loon-beaming balloon companies.

Aalyria (pronounced ah-Leer-eeh-ah) said she had an $8.7 million commercial contract with the United States Defense Innovation Unit. The company will be led by CEO Chris Taylor, a national security expert who has led other companies that have worked with the government. Taylor’s LinkedIn profile says he’s the CEO of a stealth-mode company he founded in November.

Alphabet itself sought to secure more lucrative government contracts; and earlier this year announced “Google Public Sector,” a new subsidiary focused on partnerships with the US government, primarily through Google Cloud.

Aalyria’s advisory board includes several former Google employees and executives, as well as Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist, known as one of the fathers of the web.

Google will retain a minority stake in Aalyria, but declined to say how much it owns and how much outside funding the company has raised. Google said earlier this year it transferred nearly a decade of intellectual property, patents and physical assets, including office space, to Aalyria.

Aalyria’s lightweight laser technology, which it calls “Tightbeam”, claims to keep data “intact in atmosphere and weather conditions and provides connectivity where there is no supporting infrastructure”.

“Tightbeam radically improves satellite communications, Wi-Fi in planes and ships, and cellular connectivity everywhere,” the company said.

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